HARTFORD — A settlement has been reached in a federal lawsuit that sought to better protect Connecticut prison inmates from the coronavirus.
The settlement, announced over the weekend, requires the Department of Correction to prioritize elderly and medically vulnerable prisoners who qualify for early release programs.
It also requires the department to provide prisoners better access to antiseptic cleaning supplies and allow those isolated after testing positive to have regular access to showers.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut had been seeking the widespread release of inmates, many of whom are housed in dormitory settings where social distancing is difficult.
“Because this agreement falls short of our goal of widespread releases, the ACLU of Connecticut remains committed to using every remaining advocacy tool at our disposal to push for people who are incarcerated to be safely, thoughtfully released from prisons and jails,” said David McGuire, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut.
The state had argued that a widespread release of inmates would jeopardize public safety.
The draft agreement notes the Department of Correction has begun the voluntary testing of all prisoners. It has also required the wearing of masks by staff and inmates outside their cells and has increased cleaning to limit spread of the disease.
“This settlement affirms the approach that the Department of Correction has been taking since the beginning of this pandemic,” Gov. Ned Lamont said Saturday. “The department will continue to act in this responsible manner as identified by the court and by this settlement.”
The settlement must still be approved by a U.S. District Court judge.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough.
For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or lead to death.
In other coronavirus news in Connecticut:
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection plans to reopen campgrounds for summer camping beginning July 8.
Campers with recreational vehicles or RVs will be able to keep their reservations starting July 1. Anyone with reservations before those dates will be provided refunds.
New reservations for the season can be made online beginning July 20.
DEEP is hiring and training staff to clean bathrooms and other facilities to maintain standards required by health officials during the coronavirus pandemic.
The agency has also obtained protective gear and made safety changes to camp office buildings.