Conn. (WTNH) — The Connecticut Department of Corrections confirmed the first inmate death as a result of the coronavirus Monday afternoon.
DOC says the inmate was a male in his 60s. He was tested for the virus on April 6 after showing symptoms. He was taken to UConn Health to intensive treatment on April 8, and a positive test result came back April 9. According to DOC, the inmate had preexisting underlying medical conditions.
DOC reports the inmate was imprisoned for a two-year sentence for criminal possession of a firearm. He was approved last month for discretionary release, but “an appropriate home sponsor could not be located by the offender. As a result, the offender would have had no place to stay upon release and remained in the facility.”
His maximum release date was March 12, 2021, DOC reports.
“My sympathies go out to the offender’s family,” said Department of Correction Commissioner Rollin Cook. “One death is too many, he joins the more the approximately 600 Connecticut residents who have lost their lives to this tragic disease. We will continue to do everything possible to keep the offenders and staff safe.”
The Executive Director of the ACLU, David McGuire released a statement following the inmate’s death Monday saying, “This man did not have to die. His death was entirely preventable, and it is the direct result of callous inaction by Governor Lamont and the Department of Corrections, including their refusal to institute a real plan to release people and decision not to fully fund reentry support.”
The State of Connecticut has a constitutional, moral, and ethical responsibility to protect public health by releasing incarcerated people to prevent them from contracting COVID-19, especially people who are most vulnerable. For more than a month, Governor Lamont and the DOC have been warned that their inaction was placing people in harm’s way. Until the State of Connecticut decides to protect incarcerated people from COVID-19 by urgently, safely releasing them, more people will die in Connecticut prisons and jails, more Department of Correction workers will get sick, and families will be left grieving entirely preventable deaths.– Executive Director of the ACLU, David McGuire
The ACLU of Connecticut reported they have filed a lawsuit in Superior Court April 3 to seek “immediate action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by reducing the number of people who are incarcerated in Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC) prisons and jails.”
A hearing in that lawsuit was scheduled for Wednesday, April 15, 2020.