CONNECTICUT (WTNH) — Families of inmates across Connecticut are expressing their worries after an inmate and guard at Corrigan Radgowski Correctional Institution in Uncasville tested positive for coronavirus.
A Hamden family of an inmate at the prison fears an outbreak of COVID-19 inside the facility could be catastrophic.
“At this point, is prison the safest place?” questioned Gloria Gibson.
Gibson’s son is serving 90 days for a probation violation on a domestic issue. She said the last time she spoke with her son, he said his cell was being disinfected because his cellmate was sick.
“He was sick,” she said of her son’s cellmate. “They took him out of his room and put him into another part of the jail.”
Her son has health issues — asthma and bullets lodged in his body after he was robbed. Gibson said the bullets are in his arm and stomach.
Her son now has a sore throat, headache and is in isolation. It’s unclear if his sick cellmate is the one who tested positive for the virus.
The Department of Correction said if the system experiences an outbreak and their plan for quarantines “are fractured,” it’s prepared to expand release options with careful considerations to public health and public safety.
In New Haven, there have been several protests pushing for the release of low-level offenders.
Advocates like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have held recent briefings on Zoom.
“People who are developing a cough, people who are developing a fever or have a concern, they need to be seen quickly,” said Dr. Benjamin Howell.
Officials said prisoners have to put in a slip to request medical help. Many of them live in poorly ventilated, overcrowded conditions, with limited access to soap.
The ACLU wants the state to immediately release non-violent offenders with less than a year on their sentences.
“COVID-19 is a dangerous and deadly freight train, and right now it is careening toward Connecticut prisons and jails without any brakes,” said Melvin Medina, ACLU of Connecticut Public Policy and Advocacy Director. “It is up to Governor [Ned] Lamont to move as many incarcerated people as possible out of that train’s path by announcing a thoughtful plan for compassionate release, now. “
“We have been prepared for this moment,” said Commissioner Department of Correction, Rollin Cook. “Thanks to the rapidly decreasing population, our facilities have the room to isolate individuals who contract the virus.”
Gibson said her son is supposed to be eight weeks from freedom. She was hopeful the state could put an ankle monitor on him and monitor him from home.
However, she fears now it’s too late.
Monday, New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker reported his law enforcement department is clearing out the lockups during the coronavirus outbreak to implement effective social-distancing measures with inmates that have to remain locked up.
Updates can be found on the Department of Correction’s website.