HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– The ACLU of Connecticut has filed a class action lawsuit on Monday night on behalf of all who are incarcerated in Connecticut prisons and jails during the coronavirus pandemic.
The ACLU is seeking emergency action to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the Department of Correction facilities, on behalf of people who are incarcerated pre-trail and those who are incarcerated post-sentence.
The complaint details the dangers for people living and working in prisons because of the lack of social distancing, inadequate or nonexistent access to hygiene, cleaning supplies, and personal protective equipment, and lack of access to medical care. Additionally, the transfers of people who test positive to and from the state’s “supermax,” Northern Correctional Institution.
The lawsuit represents five people who are currently incarcerated, some with preexisting medical conditions.
The lawsuit asks the court to order Governor Ned Lamont and DOC Commissioner Rollin Cook to safely release medically vulnerable people and to create a plan to protect those who remain incarcerated. This includes a plan for release if social distancing remains impossible.
The DOC’s reactive, backward approach to COVID-19 has made Connecticut prisons and jails among the most dangerous, unhealthy places anyone could be during this pandemic.
The DOC’s response has exacerbated the crisis and threatens public health as a whole. Incarcerated people are in grave and immediate danger in DOC facilities, and Governor Lamont and Commissioner Cook have a constitutional and moral responsibility to move them out of harm’s way, including by compassionately releasing people.
The numbers and stories coming out of Connecticut prisons and jails paint a horrific portrait of people left by Cook and Lamont to suffer and potentially die in a pandemic. We are asking the Court to do what they have failed to do and protect incarcerated people now.– Dan Barrett, ACLU of Connecticut legal director and an attorney on the case.
To access this statement online, click here.
For a copy of the complaint, click here.