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Stories and information in our region on the COVID-19 pandemic.

ACLU Sues Connecticut To Release Inmates Amid Virus Outbreak

Prison cells
Courtesy of Pixabay
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Advocates have asked the state of Connecticut to release inmates early to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in prisons. On Friday the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of four inmates.

“One of them, for example, has an autoimmune condition, so that puts him at very high risk.”

Dan Barrett, legal director for the Connecticut ACLU, says one plaintiff is over 60, one is scheduled for release next month, and another’s held on $5,000 bail and has only one lung.

“The government’s prepared to expose him to the virus for the lack of, really, $500, 10% cash bond. They’re in a variety of different situations, but they all illustrate the freight train that’s coming at prisoners right now.”

Earlier this week five inmates tested positive at a prison in Enfield. The state put the entire facility on lockdown. The department says it’s trying to responsibly release incarcerated people back into the community. The department released more than 200 people in March. Last week, Governor Ned Lamont said he wasn’t considering widespread releases, as other states like Kentucky have done.

“We are going to do everything we can to make sure that anybody who may be at risk of being a carrier is segregated or quarantined in a separate area. That’s going to be my priority before we have to think about releasing anybody.”

Joseph Gaylin is a criminal justice fellow at Yale. He says that’s a mistake.

“We’re at a tipping point right now, where swift and immediate action is more important than ever. And the governor’s silence has been damning and incredibly concerning.”

Gaylin says it’s not too late to prevent more outbreaks, though, if the state takes thoughtful, direct action now.

A spokesperson for Governor Lamont says the state has taken all measures to maximize public health outcomes wherever possible.

Read the latest on WSHU’s coronavirus coverage here.

 

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