Protests at pair of CT prisons call for better protection from COVID-19 for inmates

Connecticut

MONTVILLE, Conn. (WTNH) — Two noisy protests outside two Connecticut Prisons also combine two of the biggest stories in America right now – the Black Lives Matter movement and the coronavirus pandemic.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, activists have protested outside prisons saying not enough is being done to keep convicts safe behind bars. In prison cells, social distancing is impossible. Part of the solution, they say, is to let 50% of the population out of prison to allow for more space inside. 

They are also demanding that the prisons do more cleaning, and they want to punishment for any Correction Officers, or “COs” that do not wear masks around prisoners. 

Monica Prete was just released from prison after 30 days and says all the prisoners had to wear masks.

“Did COs? None of the COs,” Prete said. “I actually said that to a bunch of COs. Because they’ll come up at tier and say you have to wear it. ‘Where’s your mask? Where’s your mask?’ I said, ‘Where’s your mask?’ ‘I’m a CO, I can do what I want.’”

Related: Activists host week of protests to demand better COVID-19 protection for prisoners

Which brings us to Black Lives Matter. Police abuses in public streets are getting caught more and more often by cell phone cameras. Protestors say those same abuses are happening at the hands of guards in prison, but without cameras there to see them.

“People are being choked, stomped, kicked while they’re handcuffed, maced, put in seg and they have no way to put that out to the public,” said Jewu Richardson of the Connecticut Bail Fund.

Prison protests like this have been going on for weeks. This latest one began around 10:30 a.m. outside Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center in Montville. The group then caravanned to Niantic to demonstrate in front of the York Correctional Institution.

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