Protestors demand safer conditions for Green River inmates

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Protestors were back at the state capitol Saturday. They called on Governor Andy Beshear to either provide safer conditions for inmates at Green River Correctional Facility, or let them go.

A group of mostly women, made up of wives, siblings, or mothers of the men in the jail, stood outside Beshear’s daily briefing to send the message.

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They say the inmates are in cells with people who tested positive for the virus, cells aren’t cleaned often, and the men are only given cold lunches.

Phoenix Shepherd says her husband has an underlying health condition and she worries about him because she says his previous cellmate tested positive for the coronavirus.

“It’s aggravating, it’s frustrating, it’s scary,” Shepherd says. “They’re only able to call once every couple of days, and you don’t know if that call is going to be your loved one calling, or if it’s going to be somebody at the prison calling to say they’re at the hospital, or even worse, they’re dead.”

Green River says two inmates have died from the virus. Its website lists a third death on May 3, but says the cause is not yet determined.

Amber Edmondson was also at the protest. She says the person who recently died was her brother’s cellmate.

Similar to Shepherd, Edmondson says her brother has an underlying health condition. She says following guidelines doesn’t just stop because someone is incarcerated.

“When this all first broke out, I was very invested in listening to Andy Beshear every day,” Edmonson says. “All of the things that he said, social distance, wear a mask, when he said shut these places down don’t go there, we didn’t go. Unfortunately, we upheld our end of the bargain, Andy Beshear did not.”

Shepherd says the group is calling for the release of juveniles, first-time offenders, men over 55 years old and men with underlying health conditions. She says if they can’t be released, they should be relocated.

Shepherd says the group is also asking for a professional cleaning crew to come and clean the entire prison.