FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — A group of women say they're the voice of their loved ones, and they won't be silenced.
On Friday, they gathered outside the Governor's Mansion to call for more to be done to protect inmates at the Green River Correctional Complex, where an outbreak of coronavirus is ongoing.
The prison, located in Muhlenberg County, now has 46 confirmed cases of the virus in inmates and 36 cases in staff members, according to the Kentucky Department of Corrections website. Two inmates have died.
"We don't feel like the system is doing enough to protect these men," said Phoenix Shepherd, and organizer of the protest who's husband is an inmate at Green River.
"They were sentenced to prison time but they weren't sentenced to die in prison," she said.
Shepherd believes more inmates should be released to reduce the spread of the virus.
"I think they should look at first time offenders," she said. "I think they should look at guys who've shown rehabilitation and reform."
Rosalind J. Mitchell said she didn't have the chance to speak to her son Layfierre Mitchell after he was hospitalized.
"We loved him and we still love him," she said.
He's one of the two inmates at the prison that have died after becoming infected with the virus, she said.
"I want to see justice for the rest of these men," Mitchell said. "I don't want to see the same thing that happened to my son happen to anybody else."
On Friday, Gov. Andy Beshear announced 1,200 coronavirus tests had been administered to all inmates and staff at the prison in an effort to bring the outbreak under control. The results are expected next week, he said.
But the fear for the health of their loved ones continues for the group of women who gathered at the capitol.
"They're not just a number, they're not just a charge, they're not just an offender," Shepherd said. "They're loved ones. They're husbands, they're brothers, they're dads, they're uncles."