FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Kenyatta Thompson, firstname.lastname@example.org | (860) 937-6094
Yan Snead, email@example.com | (518) 360-1534
Follow on Twitter @KatalCenter | #FreeThemNowCT #COVIDBehindBars
Second Incarcerated Individual in the Connecticut Department of Corrections Dies of COVID-19 in the Last Month
In response to the Ninth Death of an Incarcerated Individual due to COVID-19, Katal Center for Equity, Health, and Justice issued this Statement from Lead Organizer Kenyatta Thompson:
“Today, a ninth incarcerated person in Connecticut passed away due to COVID-19 in the Department of Corrections (DOC), and comes just over 3 weeks after the death of another incarcerated person on November 18. This tragic death underscores the urgency to develop a comprehensive COVID-19 plan in the Department of Corrections, something Governor Lamont has refused to do.
While Governor Lamont praises the Department for their handling of COVID-19 in state correctional facilities, the spread of COVID-19 and the death of incarcerated people makes clear that not enough is being done to save lives. Swift action must be taken to develop a comprehensive COVID-19 plan in the DOC. Since the pandemic began, community groups and public health experts have called for Governor Lamont to develop a clear, coherent plan for reducing the impact COVID-19 in correctional facilities, including by releasing people from prisons and jails. Katal members have incarcerated loved ones in CT, and we have repeatedly requested a meeting with Governor Lamont to discuss these concerns. On September 28, Katal sent a letter to Governor Lamont demanding a comprehensive plan. Governor Lamont did not respond to the letter and has refused to meet with families and community members most impacted by the risks of COVID-19 behind bars. Just last month we organized a protest outside of the Hartford Correctional Center to demand Governor Lamont address the issue of COVID-19 in correctional facilities. If Governor Lamont listened to families and directly impacted people and public health experts, lives might otherwise be saved.
Katal offers our condolences to the family of the latest victim of COVID-19 in the Connecticut Department of Corrections. Without action from the Lamont Administration, it is clear there will be more needless and preventable deaths. And given that Black and Latinx communities are being hit particularly hard by COVID-19 and are also disproportionately incarcerated in CT prisons and jails, inaction on COVID-19 in prisons and jails will just exacerbate the impact of the pandemic on people of color in our state.
As we come upon the 2021 legislative session, it’s clear that if Governor Lamont will not act, the Legislature must move swiftly to pass bills requiring preventive measures to release incarcerated individuals and build a comprehensive plan for pandemics like COVID-19 to save lives and keep ALL constituents safe.”
Background: Since the onset of the pandemic, 1,749 incarcerated individuals have tested positive for COVID-19, and 9 incarcerated individuals have passed away across Connecticut jails and prisons due to the virus. Katal along with community groups, public health experts, and family members of those incarcerated have called on the Governor to use his executive authority to develop a comprehensive plan that saves lives and addresses COVID-19 in prisons and jails.
As the nation grapples with COVID-19 in correctional facilities, Governor Lamont needs to act immediately to ensure the safety of incarcerated people in state prisons and jails. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a major report calling for large-scale releases to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and new research in the Annals of Epidemiology emphasizes the need to decarcerate to significantly limit the spread of COVID-19 in correctional centers. Both reports directly align with demands set forth by family members of incarcerated people and community groups across the state.