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Steps to protect staff and inmates at jails from COVID-19

Posted at 1:00 PM, Apr 25, 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — In an effort to help ease overcrowding and curb the spread of COVID-19 in jails, the governor has commuted the sentences of 352 inmates.

The governor says these inmates who will be released from jail meet the same criteria: they committed non-violent, non sex-related crimes, they are nearing the end of their sentences, and they medically vulnerable

"This isn't something that we take lightly, but we know that this virus can get into these facilities. And we're taking similar action that we see governors all over the United States doing," said Governor Andy Beshear.

But there's one facility in Kentucky that lately has garnered more attention than others.

Green River Correctional Complex has seen an outbreak of the coronavirus. Two people have now died at the facility. There have been 60 confirmed cases and 40 of them are inmates.

"There are over 900 inmates in Green River Correctional Complex. That is less than four percent positive, and the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet is committed to keeping those numbers low," said Mary Noble, Secretary of KY Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.

But the families of inmates fear without some new measures, that number will continue to grow. We've been contacted by several wives and family members who have alleged the safety of their loved ones has not been top priority.

On Friday, Noble said they've implemented a two-step protocol, which includes extensive sanitation and controlled containment.

At one point in the briefing, the governor was asked if the state's response has been adequate.

"Anywhere where there is a major outbreak, I'm gonna want more done. And I don't think I'm ever feel like enough has been done. But we're gonna take more steps, and we'll continue to take steps," said Beshear.

One of those steps announced is that every inmate and staff member in Green River will now be tested for the coronavirus.