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Connecticut Prisoner Rights Advocates Push For Closure Of 'Supermax' Prison

Northern Correctional Institution in Somers, Connecticut.
Photo courtesy Connecticut State Department Of Correction
Northern Correctional Institution in Somers, Connecticut.

Lawmakers and advocates want the state of Connecticut to close its only super-maximum-security "Supermax" prison.

Northern Correctional Institution has been criticized for its use of solitary confinement, including by a U.N. torture expert. The prison served as an isolation unit for inmates with COVID-19 from March to September of last year.

Barbara Fair is with Stop Solitary CT.

“Northern is a place primarily filled with young men of color. They’re sent there to break their spirit, to shatter their minds and to reduce them to broken men who face a lifetime of scars from that torture,” Fair said.

State Senator Gary Winfield of New Haven is the co-chair of the State Judiciary Committee.

“If we have chosen to create a system in which we break people, when those people come back out of the system, we should be doing something about the fact that those are the choices we’ve made, and never make those choices again,” Winfield said.

Northern costs the state about $19 million a year to operate. Advocates say they’d like to see that money go to programs and services that support the health, shelter, and reentry of formerly incarcerated people.

About 81 people are incarcerated at Northern Correctional Institution.

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.