Protesters gather outside New Haven Correctional Center asking for state leaders to release inmates amid coronavirus pandemic

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Dozens of people honked their horns outside New Haven Correctional Center on Thursday afternoon, urging officials to let inmates go home to their families.

Their actions come after at least two correctional officers in the state tested positive for coronavirus.

Loved ones of the inmates want them free. Some say the inmates are immunocompromised and fear if they get sick, they will not have access to proper medical care.

“People actually often develop respiratory illnesses because of incarceration, and that’s a huge risk factor for dying from coronavirus,” said Jeannie Fu, Connecticut Bail Fund. “And so because of all these reasons, we can’t be saying only for some people we need to free everyone.”

RELATED: Connecticut inmates make face masks to help with shortage amid coronavirus outbreak

Organizers of the day’s events said they’ve sent messages to local and state officials and have received no response.

“Governor Lamont recently said that they have no plans of releasing anybody,” one protester said. “They don’t see this as urgent even though neighboring states like in New Jersey have started to release…taken measures to release as far as 1,000 people.”

“While I would love to say we should let everyone out of lock-up, I think that’s an unrealistic scenario and actually does not improve the safety of the community,” New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said.

To stop the spread of COVID-19, Department of Corrections employees are now being required to clean and disinfect on all three shifts and give out additional soap to inmates.

They have also stopped social visits, volunteer-led programs, community offender work crews and civilian tours.

A similar protest occurred outside of a Massachusetts detention center. Those protesters wanted immigrants freed.

Both groups feared the worst for the people inside prison walls.

Protesters in New Haven said they plan to do a rally outside every jail and prison in the state until they get answers from state officials.

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