Green River Correction’s plan to move inmates draws questions, concerns

Coronavirus Watch Kentucky

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MUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (WEHT) – The latest numbers on cases at Green River Correctional Complex comes as the state starts to separate inmates who have tested positive from the others. It happens as inmates and others question how effective that will be.

“He sent a message last night, one sentence, mom I’m tested positive. I’m O.K. I love you,” recalled Cristy Williams, who says her son, an inmate at Green River, tested positive for COVID-19. 

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“I was beside myself. I was worried and concerned,” she said. She was optimistic about the state’s plan to separate inmates into three units, including one for positive cases, but then worried if he could get sick again. 

“My concern is now that we know that they’re saying you can catch it again, that he’s being pushed in with a whole group of positive people, what if he gets it again?” she asked.

Others say more cleaning and testing must be done until there are no cases.

“They need to clean, and if they’re not going to keep testing these guys, then they’re just putting on a show. You’re just moving these guys around, and it’s just silly to me,” said Kayleigh Watson, whose boyfriend is at Green River.

During a court teleconference hearing in Louisville on a suit requesting an early release for two inmates, Warden Kevin Mazza says they started the process, but that it will take time.

“You cannot move 928 inmates at one time. We have to be systematically, we have to make sure of gangs, we have to make sure of several different things,” he said.

But lawyer Rob Eggert, who represents at least one of the inmates, says the grievance period takes 40 days to solve, which he claims is too long.

“The idea that if they filed a grievance, this would have been solved, the governor said it’s a dangerous and scary situation. When a Governor Beshear says that, how can you say, ‘You’re thrown out of court because we didn’t get your grievance,'” he said.

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(This story was originally published on May 6, 2020)

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