How Has the Coronavirus Pandemic Affected Connecticut’s Prison System?

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East Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, people across the country have been advocating for the release of some of the inmates in the prisons and jails across the country who are either unable to post bail or who do not pose a risk to the community or who have been incarcerated for low-level offenses. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that spreads easily through respiratory droplets when people are in close contact with one another. Prison conditions make this an ideal environment for COVID-19 to run rampant among populations, making it a concern for many. According to the Marshall Project, there have been more than 102,000 COVID-19 cases among the prison population as of August 18. The pandemic affected every aspect of life, but it affected prison systems exceptionally so, with issues reaching into the Connecticut Department of Corrections.

Mental Health Services Have Suffered

One of the biggest issues that the prison system has faced during the pandemic has been figuring out how to manage the mental health needs of the current and incoming inmates while maintaining safety measures. Throughout the pandemic, mental health services available to inmates have been limited and routine elective outpatient psychotherapy was suspended for most inmates.

The services that remained, such as triages, assessments, and check-ins, were forced to be conducted at the inmate’s cell side, through the locked door, making it hard to keep conversations private. Now that services are permitted to be conducted in offices again, space limitations for social distancing measures also become an issue in many facilities.

Bail System Is Still Strained

Another big issue that the Connecticut Department of Corrections still grapples with is the bail system and how that works within the criminal justice system. Recently, a Connecticut inmate was found dead in his cell with a COVID-19 mask wrapped around his neck. The man, who was the third person to die by suicide in prison in Connecticut, was only in jail a week after being unable to post a $10,000 bond after being charged with burglary and violating a protective order. In the grand scheme of things, $10,000 is a fairly low bond, so raising 10 percent of the bond would get the defendant out of jail and would be returned to the defendant as long as he or she shows up to each and every court hearing. If the defendant is unable to post 10 percent of the bond, he or she can usually work with a bail bondsman who will post bail for him or her in exchange for a fee.

However, not everyone gets to use a bondsman if he or she cannot afford to post 10 percent of the bail. The bail bondsman industry in Connecticut is private and is not regulated, meaning the bondsmen themselves are the ones who decide which defendants are deemed trustworthy enough to return to court.  

Contact an East Hartford, CT Criminal Defense Attorney

The coronavirus pandemic has put immense stress on everyone and has changed the way that many things operate, including the prison systems. At the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we understand the emotional stress that being in prison can put on a person and his or her family. If you have been charged with a crime, it is essential that you speak with a Hartford, CT criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Our skilled team of criminal law attorneys can help you form a defense to any criminal charge you may be facing. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 860-290-8690.

 

Sources:

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2020/05/01/a-state-by-state-look-at-coronavirus-in-prisons

https://ctmirror.org/2020/08/18/covid-cash-bail-mental-health-reduction-deadly-combination/

 

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