State DOC confirms first positive case of coronavirus
An incarcerated man at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center in Uncasville has tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus, becoming the first offender held by the Department of Correction to contract the virus.
The person, identified only as a 32-year-old male, has been placed in a negative pressure isolation room, and other offenders located in the same housing unit will be isolated from the rest of the population at Corrigan-Radgowski for 14 days.
All offenders in the vicinity of the effected individual received temperature checks and are continued to be monitored closely by the facility’s healthcare staff, according to the Department of Correction.
Advocates have feared the virus would make its way into the prison system, which houses just under 12,000 people in close quarters throughout the state, and have pressured Gov. Ned Lamont to release all low-level offenders from the system since coronavirus first appeared in the state.
Lamont has consistently stated he does not intend to release inmates as part of an executive order.
Inmates will continue to be released as scheduled and any low risk offenders with fewer than two years in their sentence may be considered for early release by the Board of Pardons and Paroles if they have a place to go, known as a transitional release.
More than 500 inmates have been released since March 1 and far fewer people are entering the system, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections said last week.
“For any releases, we want to make sure they have a place to go, make sure they have job assistance, for some older inmates especially, make sure that there’s a healthcare system ready to serve them,” said Lamont spokesman Max Reiss.
He said the reduction in the prison population in recent years means there is extra physical space within the system to quarantine and isolate anyone who may be affected, and contact tracing in the prison system is easier than in the general public.
Still, the American Civil Liberties Union Connecticut chapter released a statement following the diagnosis again urging Lamont to release as many inmates as possible.
“Connecticut residents, including incarcerated people’s loved ones, formerly incarcerated people, doctors, public health experts, advocates, and lawyers, have all told Governor Lamont that he must issue a thoughtful plan to release incarcerated people in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said David McGuire, president of the ACLU of Connecticut. “The ACLU of Connecticut is committed to using every tool at our disposal to require Lamont and the DOC to protect incarcerated people from COVID-19.”
Three employees of the Department of Correction have previously tested positive for the virus.
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