NIANTIC, Conn. (WTNH)– Prisoners’ rights activists are calling it the “Week of Protests.” They plan to hold protests in front of seven prisons in seven days, calling on the Department of Correction to do more to keep prisoners safe from the coronavirus.
It is what protests look like in the age of social distancing: Some people are in their cars; Others chanting a safe distance apart. They are doing this because the people on the other side of a nearby fence, inmates at York Correctional Institute, cannot stay a safe distance apart.
“Set them free, release them all,” said activist Tasha Blanco. “The time is now.”
They say there is no way to stop the spread of coronavirus in the prison system, so there is no option but to let everyone out from behind bars. They have been staging protests at prisons and even the Governor’s mansion for a couple weeks.
“We are here to reiterate our demands that everyone needs to be released now,” said activist Jeannia Fu. “There is a deadly pandemic inside and our public officials have done nothing to address it.”
The state has moved male inmates who test positive for Covid-19 up to Northern Correctional Institute, a facility designed to isolate prisoners under heavy security.
Activists do not like that because solitary is usually a punishment for bad behavior, not a pandemic safety measure.
Those activists are also demanding that absolutely everyone be let out of prison, even rapists and murderers.
“We know that cages were created in this country as a racist system,” Fu said. “We know that the criminal categories we use, are racial logics, these are racist logics and these categories should not determine who lives and dies right now.”
She says that, since Connecticut abolished the death penalty, there is no longer any crime for which the punishment can be a death sentence.