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weekly update – november 19, 2020

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Protest at Hartford Correctional Center: #FreeThemNowCT to Save Lives

Katal on Both Sides of the Bars

Protest at Hartford Correctional Center: #FreeThemNowCT to Save Lives

Photo Credits: Ashley LaRue

Yesterday, we organized an action outside of the Hartford Correctional Center with dozens of family members of incarcerated individuals and community groups including the ACLU CT. At this protest and speak-out, in the bitter cold, we demanded Governor Lamont address the issue of COVID-19 in correctional facilities, and free people.

Read more about the action featured in the CT Mirror.

In mid-October, there was a COVID-19 outbreak in Hartford Correctional Center, and 56 incarcerated people tested positive for COVID-19. Since then, the number of positive cases has grown to 191 incarcerated individuals, and we are deeply saddened to share that an incarcerated person, whose name has yet to be released, passed away last night – raising the total deaths in CT jails and prisons to 8. These needless deaths and rising cases underscore how the inaction of Governor Lamont continues to put incarcerated individual’s lives in threatening danger. And every day that the Governor does not act means incarcerated individuals remain at heightened risk of sickness or death by covid-19.

 “I have been told about someone who has no empathy or compassion for the human dignity of all Connecticut residents. Then someone told me about an individual who has absolutely refused to do anything to preserve and protect the lives of those in prison or in county jail. This person is Governor Ned Lamont who has refused to take action to ensure that our loved ones are cared for. We are still here and we are not going anywhere until we have a comprehensive COVID-19 plan in our state prisons and jails.”

– Andre McGuire, Member of the Katal Center

We offer our deepest condolences to the family of the man who tragically passed away yesterday evening, and to all of the families who have lost loved ones behind bars due to the inaction by the very Connecticut lawmakers who are supposed to represent them. We will not let up our fight to get people free, back to their home safely and away from some of the worst outbreak sites in the country.

Katal on Both Sides of the Bars

Katal member Della Smith (top L), Donna Hylton (top R), Emily NaPier Singletary (bottom L), and Andre Ward (bottom R) speaking on Fortune Society webseries Both Sides of the Bars.

Earlier this month, the Fortune Society organized the “Parole Reform – Less Is More? Why Is It So Important Now During COVID-19 … And Beyond?” episode of their webseries Both Sides of the Bars to explore our #LessIsMoreNY legislation and why parole reform is so important during this public health crisis – not only in New York, but nationally.

Katal member Della L. Smith joined as a speaker, alongside our campaign leadership team, Donna Hylton, president and founder of A Little Piece of Light; and Emily NaPier Singletary, co-founder and co-executive director of Unchained.

Watch the full episode.

Since the onset of the pandemic, community groups, including those with the #LessIsMoreNY campaign, have demanded that Governor Cuomo pass the bill and use his executive authority to immediately release people from NYS prisons, including every New Yorker currently incarcerated for a technical violation of parole. With COVID-19 spreading in NYS prisons and jails, Cuomo and the legislature must act urgently to save the lives of their incarcerated constituents, who are disproportionately Black and Latinx.

We thank Mr. Ward and the Fortune Society for hosting this informational and timely conversation. Families and community members will continue holding Cuomo and the Legislature accountable until they release people and pass #LessIsMoreNY. With nearly 170 groups across the state and multiple district attorneys backing the measure, the time to pass the #LessIsMoreNY Act is now.

Keep practicing social distancing, wear your mask, wash your hands, and check in on your neighbors. If you want to get involved, learn more about our work, or just connect, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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