HARTFORD – The Connecticut Department of Correction today announced that the first death from COVID-19 of a person incarcerated by the State of Connecticut. According to the Department of Correction, the person who died was a man in his 60s, who, according to the Department of Correction, had been scheduled for release. Also today, the Department of Correction’s COVID-19 chart indicated the number of positive COVID-19 cases has nearly tripled, increasing from 61 on Friday to 166 this afternoon. The following is a reaction from David McGuire, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut:
“This man did not have to die. His death was entirely preventable, and it is the direct result of callous inaction by Governor Lamont and the Department of Correction, including their refusal to institute a real plan to release people and decision not to fully fund reentry support. The State of Connecticut has a constitutional, moral, and ethical responsibility to protect public health by releasing incarcerated people to prevent them from contracting COVID-19, especially people who are most vulnerable. For more than a month, Governor Lamont and the DOC have been warned that their inaction was placing people in harm’s way. Until the State of Connecticut decides to protect incarcerated people from COVID-19 by urgently, safely releasing them, more people will die in Connecticut prisons and jails, more Department of Correction workers will get sick, and families will be left grieving entirely preventable deaths.”
The ACLU of Connecticut, representing the Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (CCDLA) and people who are incarcerated, filed a lawsuit in Superior Court seeking immediate action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by reducing the number of people who are incarcerated in Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC) prisons and jails. The class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of the CCDLA and six people who are incarcerated, including one man with an autoimmune condition and another scheduled for release in May. A hearing in that lawsuit is scheduled for Wednesday, April 15, 2020.