Lawsuit Filed To Protect Vulnerable Inmates From COVID-19

Barbara Schwarz
March 31, 2020 - 5:37 am
Prison, Jail

Georgiy Datsenko/GettyImages

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The Pack Unit in Navasota County is home to many of the Texas prison system's oldest and medically compromised offenders.

 Attorney Jeff Edwards says the suit asks for basic protections like hand sanitizer, unlimited soap, not transferring in new inmates, screening and quarantines. It also asks that common surfaces be thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis.  And it asks inmates be kept at least six feet from each other and from correction officers. 

"The state has taken on a duty to care for and protect prisoners.  And the prisoners cannot do it on their own.  And so we're asking for basic, common sense policies that truly can stop the spread of the disease."

He says it will be a disaster if it gets into this prison, not just for the inmates.  He says prison personnel could get infected and spread the virus in the community. 
 
The suit asks for no compensation, just changes. He calls it the "Purest form of the law. It literarily says the constitution applies to everyone, the disability statutes apply to everyone, and simply because you're incarcerated and unable to care for yourself, we don't check your rights at the door."

In 2018, Edwards reached a settlement with the state to have the Pack unit air conditioned.