The ACLU-CT protects the rights of all people, including people who are incarcerated. We therefore support this bill, which would allow people who are incarcerated or people suing on their behalf to obtain files that relate to their claim for death or permanent injuries suffered while incarcerated. These files include all personnel, protocol or policy review, medical files, medical reviews, corrective action plans or summary reports in the possession of the Department of Corrections. This would allow the person suing to have all the materials and information necessary to build a good case.
The ACLU-CT supports the right of any person, including people who are incarcerated, to be able to fairly and adequately defend themselves and pursue justice in the judicial system. According to a U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics report, 72 people died in Connecticut state and federal prisons from suicide, drug or alcohol intoxication, accidents, or homicide between 2001 and 2014. Without the information that would be provided to claimants under this bill, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to build an effective case. This is particularly true where the person who was incarcerated has died or is disabled and potentially unable to provide all relevant details to their legal representation.
For these reasons, we encourage the legislature to ensure that people who are incarcerated and people suing on their behalf actually benefit from the bill’s provisions by changing the word “may” in lines 23 and 28 to “shall.” This would make these provisions mandatory and thus more effective. With these changes, a person who is incarcerated or a person suing on their behalf would receive the necessary materials to build their case and the Claims Commissioner would adopt rules of procedure necessary to carry out the provisions of this bill.