ACLU-Kansas Files Petitions for Prisoner Releases

Following a stinging defeat in court, a civil rights group has launched “The Clemency Project” to try to secure the release of Kansas prisoners whose medical conditions make them vulnerable to the coronavirus.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas filed the first round of what it anticipates will be dozens of individualized clemency petitions seeking relief for their clients from the state parole board and Governor Laura Kelly.

The move comes days after Leavenworth District Judge David King threw out the group’s class action petition on behalf of seven inmates at the Lansing Correctional Facility, the Ellsworth Correctional Facility and the Topeka Correctional Facility.

The court found that the ACLU did not prove corrections officials failed to meet their constitutional duty to provide adequate medical care, or that they acted with deliberate indifference to the inmates’ serious medical needs.

Individual clemency petitions will be filed on a rolling basis beginning with the inmates who were part of that lawsuit, as well as more than 50 others who have since contacted the ACLU.

The state’s Prisoner Review Board will review the applications.