Reaction to Department of Corrections Transfer of COVID Unit from Northern Correctional Institution to MacDougall Correctional

September 16, 2020 4:45 pm

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HARTFORD, Conn. — The Connecticut Department of Correction today announced that it would close the COVID-19 unit at Northern Correctional Institution, the state’s supermax prison, and instead place that unit in the MacDougall building of MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution. The following is a reaction from Claudine Fox, campaign manager for the ACLU of Connecticut:

“The Department of Correction’s decision to close its COVID-19 unit at Northern is the direct result of incarcerated people and their families bravely and persistently speaking out about how the DOC’s choice to send sick people to a fortress built for punishment is the very definition of cruelty. It took people who are incarcerated to point out to the DOC that the fear of Northern, which the DOC had worked so hard to instill, meant people would do anything to avoid being sent there, including hiding symptoms of a deadly illness. The Department of Correction chose to send sick people to Northern, a facility known for inflicting human misery and suffering. The DOC’s hands were not tied, its decision to send people to Northern served no public health benefit and in fact undermined it. While it is good news that the DOC will no longer send sick people to Northern, it never should have sent them there to begin with, and the best way to protect incarcerated people from COVID-19 remains releases.”

Since March 2020, the DOC has transferred or incarcerated more than 600 people, 78 percent of whom were Black or Latinx, at Northern. The following are testimonials from people about their experiences at Northern Correctional Institution during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Mr. Russell, who was in the Northern COVID-19 unit
  • Mr. Pagan, who was at Northern before the pandemic began and during the pandemic
  • Mr. Miller, who was sent to Northern for protesting conditions inside during the pandemic and remains there today

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