Loved ones raise concerns about Green River Correctional Complex

Posted at 6:36 PM, May 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 18:36:13-04

CENTRAL CITY, Ky. (LEX 18) — A new update shows that 399 inmates at Green River Correctional Facility have tested positive for COVID-19, many of which are said to be asymptomatic.

On March 25, a staff member first tested positive. Since then, over 1,000 inmates and staff have been tested. These tests were only mandated by Gov. Andy Beshear last week. Phoenix Shepherd, whose husband is an inmate in the facility, says it should have been done earlier.

"I feel like if they had jumped on it sooner they could have had better control on it," Shepherd said. "But they didn't act soon enough, it shouldn't have taken them a whole entire to test the facility."

Shepherd's husband, who she would like not to name, was given a notice on his door to isolate, but wasn't told if he tested positive or not.

"My husband, he had an isolation notice put on his door yesterday morning, and he said he asked what that meant, and they told him it means he either has it, his cellmate has, it or both of them have it, but they didn't tell him his result," Shepherd said.

Her husband is severally asthmatic and she is worried the next call she gets could be that he's on the way to the hospital.

"I don't know when is the next time he will call, or it could be the prison calling to tell me he is on his way to the hospital, I have no idea and that is scary and frustrating and aggravating," Shepherd said.

She isn't alone in her frustrations. Mekayla Breland says her fiance's mental health has deteriorated.

"To be isolated in a cell for 23 hours a day and only get 10, 20 minutes out is not good for them," Breland said. "So not only are they dealing with a pandemic but their mental health is just plummeting at this point."

Normally the men are allowed out of their cells for most of the day the woman says, but now it's less than an hour. Yet still, hundreds of men are infected.

On May 1, Shepherd and other women with loved ones in the facility rallied at the Capitol for their loved one's rights. They will be back again this weekend, and they urge public officials to hold the leaders of the prison accountable for doing the things they say they are doing to keep prisoners safe.

"These guys their lives matter, and to play Russian Roulette with their lives is not okay, and I feel like that's what they've done, they were sentenced to prison time, not a death sentence," says Shepherd.

LEX 18 has reached out the Department of Corrections several times for a comment and have yet to hear back.