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Lamont Approves Inmate Release, But Advocates Say More Protections Needed

Covid-19 prisoner protection protest
Chris Ehrmann
A sign affixed to a car reads "Detention is a Death Sentence" during a protest against the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's detention of immigrants during the COVID-19 pandemic in Hartford, Conn., last week.

Officials say more people were released from Connecticut state prisons in the last month than ever before. But some advocates say the state isn’t doing enough to protect inmates from COVID-19.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont says more than 700 people have been released from prison since March 1.

“Low violent, lowest risk folks who were incarcerated and there for very minor probation-related issues. On the other side of the equation, the oldest of our folks who are incarcerated, those who might be most likely to be at risk of a COVID infection.”

Connecticut Department of Correction Commissioner Rollin Cook says everyone who’s been released qualified for pre-release.

“We will not approve discretionary release for anyone under my statutory authority without a home plan. We understand the concerns COVID-19 creates for shelters.” 

Cook says prisons are relying on inmates to show symptoms before testing them for COVID-19.

Dozens of cars lined up outside the governor’s mansion in Hartford Monday and honked their horns in protest. Lamont encouraged protesters to reach out to him directly.

“Give me a call, let’s talk about it. We don’t need people outside protesting right now, I’m trying to keep groups less than five, we got a public health emergency.” 

The Connecticut ACLU has sued the state on behalf of four inmates it says are at high risk due to COVID-19. The ACLU says Lamont still hasn’t released a plan to safely and thoughtfully release people from prison.

Read the latest on WSHU’s coronavirus coverage here.

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Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.
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