Correctional officer at Indiana Women’s Prison dies after battling COVID-19

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — A correctional officer for the Indiana Women’s Prison has passed away as a result of COVID-19.

Francine Earls, 56, of Indianapolis, passed away on Saturday at a local hospital, officials say.

Earls began working at the prison in July 2018. Her death has left her grandkids missing a big piece of their lives.

“It’s very hard because I talked to her every day. Knowing I’ll never get a call or text or surprise visit from her, it’s very bothering,” said Francine’s grandson Javon Campbell.

“Officer Earls was a valuable team member at the women’s prison; her work ethic and integrity was unparalleled. She will be greatly missed by all,” said warden Laurie Johnson.

That praise didn’t surprise Francine’s grandson Javon.

“She wouldn’t take off. If she could get extra hours, she’d get extra hours. She wanted her money to make sure her grandkids and her kids were right,” said Campbell.

“She rapidly became a strong leader and was recognized for being a dependable team member. Though Officer Earls was assigned to J-bracket, she was often called upon by other shifts to assist when needed and she always answered the call. Officer Earls took her duties seriously and was respected by other staff members as well as the offenders she oversaw daily,” the Indiana Department of Correction said in a statement.

DOC officials confirm officer Earls recently began working as a trip officer, transporting inmates to hospital visits and medical appointments.

“She was very sweet and outgoing and never stopped working,” said Campbell. “I mean she did what she loved and I love her for that.”

So far, 176 DOC employees have tested positive for COVID-19, along with 346 offenders.

Francine’s grandson wishes everyone would take the threat of the illness as serious as possible.

“It ain’t nothing to play with. There’s a lot of people taking it as a joke. You aren’t supposed to do that. If they say stay in the house, stay in the house,” said Campbell.

Earls’ passing marks the second COVID-19-related death of a staff member announced by the Indiana Department of Corrections. Correctional Officer Gary Weinke, 67, succumbed to complications of COVID-19 on the same day as Earls, according to the IDOC.

Gov Holcomb has directed flags in Marion County to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Friday in Earls’ memory.

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