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Beshear Prepares To Release Some State Inmates As Cases Increase In Prisons

Office of the Governor

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear is preparing to commute the sentences of some state inmates as coronavirus case counts rise in prisons throughout the commonwealth.

Secretary of the Executive Cabinet Michael Brown provided an update on COVID-19 in Kentucky’s correctional facilities Wednesday during a media briefing in Frankfort. Brown said 811 inmates have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began. With 432 inmates recovered, 379 active cases remain. A total of 122 correctional staff members have tested positive.

Brown singled out the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women and the Kentucky State Reformatory as facilities with worsening outbreaks. He said state leaders will follow the playbook established to deal with an earlier outbreak at the Green River Correctional Complex, which calls for strategic isolation of positive inmates and those with medical conditions that create a high risk for the virus. 

Another tool deployed to loosen the strain of the pandemic on the state prison system is the early release of some inmates. Orders signed earlier this year by Beshear released 1,200 inmates, and he said he plans to release 700 more over the coming weeks. Inmates under consideration for early release must be non-violent, convicted of non-sexual offenses and nearing the end of their sentence. Offenders with high-risk medical conditions will be examined for release under a different set of criteria. 

Beshear reported 619 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, bringing the statewide total to 28,727. Kentucky’s positivity rate increased to 5.81%. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 currently sit at 571, with 112 Kentuckians battling the virus in intensive care units. 

A total of 724 Kentuckians are dead as a result of the coronavirus. Beshear confirmed five new deaths Wednesday, including a 71-year-old man from McCracken County and an 81-year-old man from Graves County. 

Following comments from Lexington Republican Senator Ralph Alvarado criticizing Beshear for poor communication with legislative leaders, Beshear dismissed the comments as a political ploy. He said Alvarado and other Republicans should directly discuss the administration’s COVID-19 actions instead of Beshear’s level of communication with General Assembly members. Beshear also said Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack attempted to contact Alvarado, and Alvarado failed to return Stack’s call.

“We don’t need to be engaged in that type of silliness,” Beshear said. “If you’re against the steps we’re taking, own up to it.”

Click here for more information concerning Kentucky’s response to the novel coronavirus. 

Dalton York is a Morning Edition host and reporter for WKYU in Bowling Green. He is a graduate of Murray State University, where he majored in History with a minor in Nonprofit Leadership Studies. While attending Murray State, he worked as a student reporter at WKMS. A native of Marshall County, he is a proud product of his tight-knit community.
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