Local News

Butner inmates withdraw lawsuit that asked for release as pandemic spread

Posted July 2, 2020 10:02 a.m. EDT
Updated July 2, 2020 11:14 a.m. EDT

— Eleven inmates at the Federal Correctional Complex in Butner who filed a class-action lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons voluntarily withdrew their lawsuit Thursday, according to a press release from the FBI.

The FBI said the inmates failed to prove that the prison violated their constitutional right to avoid cruel and unusual punishment during the coronavirus pandemic. The inmates accused Butner of failing to control the spread of the coronavirus, and exposing them to a place where they could contract the disease.

The suit said that Butner's failure to prevent the spread of the virus was a violation of their 8th amendment rights.

The inmates asked for a temporary restraining order and mass release or transfer of inmates due to the outbreak. Their motion was denied on June 11. 

As of June 3, a total of 1,277 inmates tested positive for COVID-19, out of the more than 4,000 inmates imprisoned at Butner, according to court records. As of June 6, Butner has reported 19 inmate deaths related to COVID-19 and 664 active inmate infections.

Butner prisoners claimed in the suit that the facility did not properly isolate inmates once they contracted COVID-19, per CDC guidelines. The facility did not provide treatment for coronavirus to one of the inmates involved in the lawsuit who was sick.

The court decided that the 8th amendment did not apply to this situation and the courts could not grant a temporary restraining order or release of prisoners.

"We are gratified that the court, in its ruling denying the inmates’ request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, recognized the efforts that officials at FCC Butner have made to minimize the risk of virus infection to the prisoners while doing their usual excellent job at maintaining order and ensuring the safety of the public in operating these critical facilities," US Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina Robert Higdon, Jr. said.

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