PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Governor Kate Brown and the Oregon Department of Corrections on behalf of people imprisoned in four of the state’s detention centers, citing a failure to protect those in custody from the coronavirus.
Seven plaintiffs are named in the lawsuit who are in custody at four prisons: Oregon State Correctional Institution, Oregon State Penitentiary, Columbia River Correctional Institution, and Coffee Creek Correctional Facility. A statement released by the Oregon Justice Resource Center said the lawsuit was filed “on the grounds that their rights are being violated by willful and/or deliberately indifferent medical care provided to them.”
Six people in custody have tested positive for the coronavirus, the lawsuit filings claim.
“Our clients are keenly aware that they are particularly at risk of serious illness and even death if they contract COVID-19,” said Juan Chavez, Director and Attorney for the Civil Rights Project at the Oregon Justice Resource Center, in a written statement. “This disease has the potential to wreak havoc in an environment such as a prison. People who live in Oregon’s prisons should not have to pay with their lives for the failure to take sensible steps to protect them.”
The statement released by the OJRC said, in part:
“Plaintiffs are asking a federal judge to release them if the Oregon Department of Corrections does not protect them and others from the coronavirus.”
“The plaintiffs argue that ODOC and Oregon hospitals are not equipped to cope with a COVID-19 prison outbreak. ODOC recently announced layoffs, a hiring freeze and other measures to address a $60 million shortfall which Director Colette Peters told media “could not have come at a worse possible time.” ODOC does not keep sufficient electronic health records to help identify and track trends in medical care. Additional medical costs required to test and treat COVID-19 will further balloon ODOC’s shortfall.”
Read the full class action lawsuit: