DENVER – An inmate of the Buena Vista Correctional Facility is asking a judge to order state officials to take measures to reduce the threat of COVID-19 at the prison.
Judge Raymond P. Moore at the U.S. District Court for Colorado in Denver told the Department of Corrections Friday to file a response to him by April 20.
The request of James Faircloth was filed last week by his attorney, Allen Chaney of Denver.
In the 14-page court filing, Chaney said two inmates at the prison tested positive for the virus Wednesday.
“The Constitution does not guarantee comfortable prisons, but it does demand safe ones,” the 14-page court filing states.
It quotes from a U.S. Supreme Court decision in another case years earlier in which that court stated the Constitution imposes a duty on state officials “to assume some responsibility” for the safety and well-being of a state’s inmates.
The Mountain Mail obtained a copy of the filing at the court.
Faircloth’s request states he “suffers from numerous serious health issues which render him susceptible to contracting and succumbing to (the virus).”
“Despite the dangers posed by this global pandemic, Buena Vista Correctional Facility has refused to employ basic preventative measures – such as limiting inmate-to-inmate contact and providing disinfectant wipes – and thereby demonstrates deliberate indifference to the health and well-being of Plaintiff Faircloth and his fellow inmates” Chaney wrote in the filing.
It lists two examples: not providing disinfectant wipes for a telephone inmates use and not screening delivery drivers.
Faircloth wants the judge to order the Department of Corrections to “impose measures necessary to gain compliance with prevailing medical recommendations of social distancing, hand washing and disinfecting common surfaces.”
Another part of the request states that social distancing can’t be achieved in a prison.
At least until proof of remedial measures have been provided, Chaney is asking Moore to order Faircloth’s immediate release from custody. The attorney cited examples in which judges in other states have ordered release of inmates in circumstances said to be similar to Faircloth’s.
The inmate already is eligible for parole, Cheney states.