Kentucky inmates sue for release from Green River prison due to COVID-19 outbreak

Coronavirus Watch Kentucky

Ky. (WEHT/WDRB) — Several inmates at Green River Correctional Complex have filed motions with Jefferson County Circuit Court judges in recent weeks asking for their prison sentences set aside or modified to home incarceration instead.

43 inmates and 28 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 at the facility and two inmates have died from the virus.

In addition, attorneys for some inmates have filed lawsuits against Kevin Mazza, the Green River warden, asking judges to order their release as a result of “cruel and unusual punishment.”

At least one of the inmates who has filed a lawsuit against Green River claims to have tested positive for the virus. 

Kalvin Irvin, who is serving a sentence for firearm possession charges with an expected release date in 2022, tested positive on April 18 and was “returned to his cell” with a cellmate, where social distancing was impossible, according to the lawsuit. 

Several days later, he was taken to “the hole,” which the attorneys say is used by prison officials for isolation. 

“Mr. Irvin and his wife are both concerned for his life at this time,” according to the lawsuit filed on Tuesday in Jefferson Circuit Court. 

In the motions and lawsuits, the inmates say Green River is overrun with sick workers and inmates and social distancing is impossible because they are constantly put into group situations.

Some allege there is no soap and hand sanitizer and only the “severely ill” are being tested for COVID-19. Even those released from 14-day quarantine after having symptoms are not being tested before going back into the general population, according to the motions.

“This rapidly increasing rate of infection and spread in jails and prisons is undoubtedly due to the conditions that do not allow people to adhere to CDC guidelines,” defense attorney Rob Eggert wrote in some of the motions. “Persons in custody cannot social distance, they cannot wash their hands and persons adequately, and they cannot keep distance from people who are regularly coming in and out of the facility, either due to work shifts or arrest.”

Louisville station WDRB in Louisville has more.

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