ACLU pushes for release of low-level offenders, citing risk of prison coronavirus outbreak

The ACLU is asking state courts to only hold the most serious suspects on bail, supervised release of anyone who tests positive for coronavirus and inmates' detention reviewed every seven days.

News 12 Staff

Mar 27, 2020, 11:58 PM

Updated 1,481 days ago

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A group urged Gov. Ned Lamont today to release low-level offenders before a prison coronavirus outbreak.
The ACLU is asking state courts to only hold the most serious suspects on bail, supervised release of anyone who tests positive for coronavirus and inmates' detention reviewed every seven days.
So far, Gov. Lamont says that idea is off the table. Gov. Lamont is banning any group over five people. But in prisons, he's resisted calls to release low-level offenders - especially those awaiting trial.
"We do have extra capacity in our correctional facilities right now," Lamont said Tuesday. "We are going to do everything we can to make sure that everybody who may be at risk of being a carrier is segregated and quarantined into a separate area."
Connecticut prisons house 12,000 inmates. Critics say it's a recipe for a coronavirus outbreak.
"The virus doesn't discriminate between correctional officers, medical staff and people who are incarcerated," says Dr. Benjamin Howell. "So any people moving in and out of the system can bring the virus in -- can spread the virus between them."
One former inmate told News 12 that Connecticut prisons don't have the medical staff to respond to a COVID-19 outbreak.
"The obstacles and the barriers they face on a daily basis, nevermind when there's a pandemic, is crazy," said Brian Sullivan.
An employee at Garner Correctional Institute in Newtown tested positive last week. That employee is now isolating at home. The state says no inmates have caught the virus.
New Jersey and New York have released some inmates, as have federal prisons. Outside visits are now on hold in Connecticut, and the number of inmates allowed in the same place at the same time is being limited.
PHOTOS: The impact of coronavirus around the world
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