ACLU of Connecticut Urges State Officials to Use Existing Powers to Release People Awaiting Trial, Certain Other Incarcerated People During COVID-19 Pandemic

March 12, 2020 7:15 pm

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HARTFORD, Conn. – In the wake of confirmed cases in Connecticut of coronavirus/COVID-19, the ACLU of Connecticut today called for state officials to take action to protect incarcerated people, corrections employees, and the general public by reducing the use of imprisonment in Connecticut.

“Given the CDC’s warnings about avoiding confined spaces and the threat COVID-19 poses to elderly people and those with serious chronic medical conditions, we urge state officials to exercise their existing powers to reduce incarceration as much as possible during this pandemic,” said David McGuire, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut. “Confining people in close quarters increases the risk of infection, but thousands of Connecticut residents are needlessly incarcerated right now, including those who are accused of a crime and unable to afford bail, and those who are elderly and infirm. In the interest of public health, we are calling on state officials to reduce confinement in state prisons and jails by limiting arrests to serious offenses; releasing people who are being held pre-trial based on inability to afford bail; instituting furloughs, compassionate release, and expedited parole for incarcerated people who are at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19 and pose no public safety threat; and taking steps to avoid backlogs in court dockets. We will be closely monitoring the state’s response to COVID-19 to ensure it protects the health and wellbeing of people who are incarcerated and workers in those facilities.”

The ACLU of Connecticut has sent a letter to Governor Lamont, court officials, administration officials, and prosecutors urging them to use their existing powers under state law to protect vulnerable people who are incarcerated.

For a copy of the letter sent by the ACLU of Connecticut to Governor Ned Lamont, Connecticut Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Robinson, Chief Court Administrator Patrick Carroll, Chief State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo, Department of Corrections Commissioner Rollin Cook, Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner James Rovella, Connecticut Chiefs of Police Association President Keith Mello, and the State’s Attorneys:

For a copy of this statement online:

For the ACLU of Connecticut’s earlier comment on the state’s response to COVID-19:

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