• Arkansas Times, Max Brantley

Hearing set today on ACLU’s lawsuit over coronavirus danger in state prisons

Federal Judge Kristine Baker has set a hearing at 2 p.m. today on the ACLU’s request for a temporary restraining order in the case by inmates from four state prisons over inadequate health procedures to protect them from coronavirus.

The parties will participate by phone or video. The public may listen by going to courtroom 4C in the courthouse, but social distancing will be maintained, along with the usual security screening.

The ACLU has drafted a proposed temporary restraining order setting a timeline for arguments in the case but also asking for a range of health precautions, including soap, sanitizers, clean towels, disinfecting of problem areas, the wearing of protective gear by prison staff, daily medical tests and quarantining of people suspected to be sick.

The request cites the explosion of cases at Cummins prison, now more than 900 inmates and staff, and says the state would not agree with plaintiffs on a schedule for arguments. The plaintiffs seek to complete arguments by May 9.

Inmates from Cummins, Varner, Varner Super Max and the Ouachita River unit are plaintiffs in the suit. So far, only Cummins has had cases, but limiting has been scant the other units.

And speaking of prison conditions, this was posted yesterday on the Facebook page of a group that works against mass incarceration. It depicts Cummins as “a cesspool of disease and confusion on the brink of hysteria and chaos.”

(501) 367-7890  l  contact@decarceratear.org  l  PO Box 7708, Little Rock, AR 72217  l   Newsletter

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