Connecticut prison officials are monitoring a coronavirus outbreak in Hartford Correctional Center, where 56 incarcerated people tested positive but are not showing symptoms, according to Karen Martucci, spokeswoman for the Department of Correction.
Hartford Correctional Center is on lockdown for a deep cleaning after two staff members tested positive for coronavirus. Social visits are not allowed until further notice and testing will take place for the entire population.
Dan Barrett, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, says the only real way to prevent a coronavirus outbreak inside prisons is to continue reducing the prison population.
“The most basic way to prevent people from being exposed to COVID in our prison system is to make sure releases are happening and that people are not being held in prison,” he said.
The terms of a settlement reached in a recent lawsuit require the DOC to report COVID-19 testing results to ACLU lawyers and undertake several measures to control outbreaks. Barrett says the DOC is not living up to all of the terms.
“We have received a number of reports from across all 14 facilities that various provisions of the agreement are just not being honored,” said Barrett.
These provisions include ensuring that incarcerated people have access to sanitization essentials and that staff is equipped with masks.
According to the DOC website, over 1,600 COVID-19 cases have been reported across Connecticut’s 14 facilities, with 175 in Hartford.
Brenda León is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.