First of all, let me say that the conditions in Northern Correctional Institution, where Connecticut’s COVID-19-positive inmates are being sent, are horrific and absolutely in no way conducive to the healing of sickly inmates. In actuality it is a place that is “a recipe for disaster” as medical workers from the CTDOC have stated.

I spent close to five years inside the depressing walls of Northern and have been sick numerous times due to the same ventilation system that was mentioned in your April 8 article.  It is supposedly “similar to hospital ventilation systems.” That’s a crock, plain and simple.

The system runs on a central air method which only distributes the infectious diseases that some may have in different parts of the prison to each and every cell. So something as small as  the common cold spreads like wildfire in these places. So just imagine what something of that magnitude would do — people locked in their cells 24 hours a day, no windows, no sanitizer, no masks, no gloves, no cleaning supplies, and absolutely no way to socially distance themselves in a cell the size of a parking space. That’s not to mention the fact that people typically are double celled as well.

Here are some quotes from medical workers I know from a lower level facility explaining the inadequacies of the prison health system.

This from a doctor — the only physician for 1,500 inmates at the Cheshire Correctional Institution, a ratio, he said, that is “totally out of control.”

“Even quarantining someone with chicken pox is an ordeal,” he said. “Access to care becomes a huge problem, getting seen, having follow-ups. We’ve got high infection rates in prison and a small window of opportunity to treat them, since most inmates are returning to the community. It would be devastating if the infections spread — it is a recipe for disaster.”

A prison system registered nurse says that while the prison population has decreased, rates of opioid addiction, mental illness and infection have increased.

If this is what they are saying about lower level facilities, imagine the atrocities that will take place and the deaths that are sure to come, in a place that was designed for the supposed “worst of the worst.” The same exact place that was deemed unconstitutional and a torture chamber and that StopSolitaryCT, the ACLU and countless other organizations have been trying to shut down, is the place Gov. Ned Lamont and Correction Commissioner Rollin Cook choose to send people because they are sick? Where is the humanity in that?

Leighton Johnson is Education/Outreach Coordinator of StopSolitaryCT.

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