A Leavenworth County judge has denied a petition filed on behalf of prison inmates who had argued conditions at state prisons put them at risk for COVID-19 and violated their constitutional rights regarding cruel and unusual punishment.
In a ruling filed May 8, District Judge David King wrote that the inmates did not prove state prison officials “have failed to meet their constitutional duty to provide adequate medical care, or that they have acted with deliberate indifference” to the inmates’ serious medical needs.
King wrote that documents submitted as part of the case “show that the Kansas Department of Corrections has undertaken appropriate efforts to protect the inmate population in Kansas correctional facilities from COVID-19.”
King denied what is known as a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.
The case was filed in April by representatives of the ACLU Foundation of Kansas on behalf of eight inmates at state prisons. Five of the inmates are incarcerated at the Lansing Correctional Facility, which has seen a significant cluster of COVID-19 cases.
The petitioners sought the release of some inmates, mitigation efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the prisons and other actions.
The inmates also had asked that the case be granted class action status for all inmates in the custody of the Kansas Department of Corrections. King denied this request as well.
The case initially was filed with the Kansas Supreme Court. But the state’s highest court transferred the case to Leavenworth County District Court.
In his written ruling, King indicated he held a telephone conference with attorneys involved in the case in late April. At that time, attorneys agreed to submit the case to the judge based on written documents filed with the court without an additional hearing.
On Thursday, representatives of the ACLU Foundation of Kansas submitted clemency applications to the state’s Prisoner Review Board on behalf of four of the inmates who were involved in the court case.