HARTFORD – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that he would nominate Angel Quiros, the current interim Department of Correction (DOC) commissioner, to become the permanent DOC commissioner. By law, the legislature must vote on whether to approve the Governor’s nomination. The following is a reaction from Melvin Medina, public policy and advocacy director for the ACLU of Connecticut:
“Governor Lamont’s decision to appoint a new DOC commissioner without public hearings or feedback demonstrates disappointing disregard for transparency and public engagement and backtracks on the spirit of a campaign promise Lamont made in 2018. At the beginning of his administration, Lamont promised to hold a national search for his DOC commissioner within his first 100 days in office, to create a search committee that included formerly incarcerated criminal justice advocates, and to hold public hearings for community input in the state’s largest reentry zones. Lamont broke that promise during his appointment of the previous DOC commissioner, and he appears to have broken that promise again today. Despite claims of a nationwide search, the Lamont administration did not meaningfully solicit feedback, even virtually, from people and communities whose lives are directly impacted by the DOC’s decisions.
When the legislature considers Angel Quiros’s nomination to serve as DOC commissioner, it should ensure that, if confirmed, he will close Northern Correctional Institution, issue a decarceration plan that addresses existing racial inequities in releases by explicitly including a release plan for Black and Latinx people, use his authority to increase releases of people to protect them from COVID-19, and restore visitation for families to safely connect with their loved ones.
The Lamont administration has consistently ignored and belittled the public health threat of COVID-19 in prisons and jails, a threat faced by a population that is more than 70 percent Black and Latinx. The Governor’s appointment of a new DOC commissioner without meaningful public engagement is the latest example of an administration that has, at times literally, shut off its lines of communication with the most vulnerable people it is supposed to serve.”