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Ind. correctional officer dies from COVID-19

Francine Earls, 56, who recently began working as a trip officer, worked at the Indiana Women’s Prison since 2018

By Sarah Calams

INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana Women’s Prison correctional officer died Saturday from COVID-19 complications. reported that the death of Francine Earls, 56, who started working at the prison in July 2018, marks the second COVID-19-related death of an IDOC staff member. Officer Gary Weinke, 67, who worked at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, died from COVID-19 complications on the same day as Earls.

“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,” Warden Laurie Johnson said.

Earls recently began working as a trip officer, transporting inmates to hospital visits and medical appointments, according to the report.

“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.

Currently, 176 IDOC employees and 346 offenders have tested positive for COVID-19.