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For Those Opposed To Solitary Confinement, Executive Order Doesn't Go Far Enough

Speakers at the state capitol protesting the use of solitary confinement in Connecticut prisons.
Cyrus Henry
/
Connecticut Public
Speakers at the state capitol protesting the use of solitary confinement in Connecticut prisons.

Activists opposed to the use of solitary confinement in state prisons rallied at the state capitol Friday, criticizing the governor’s recent veto of legislation that would have limited the practice. They also said his subsequent executive order on solitary confinement did not go far enough.

Kevnesha Boyd is a board member of the organization Stop Solitary CT. She’s also a former mental health counselor for the Department of Correction.

"The executive order doesn't protect the lives of incarcerated people, the executive order doesn't provide external oversight, more people will be killed, more people will die, more people will be traumatized, right. I'm here to change it,” Boyd said. “I was traumatized vicariously from working with the department of corrections, and I stand with Stop Solitary until we get the Protect Act, also known as S.B. 1059, passed."

Rev. Andre L. McGuire, a New Britain Ministerial Alliance member, said that his experience in solitary confinement was torture. McGuire said he was sent there after defending himself in a fight.

"So they sent me to solitary confinement, and they would not keep me in regular solitary confinement; they put me in a place where the old death row used to be up at Osborn, and it was a little tiny place with no semblance of humanity whatsoever,” he said.

Legislative leaders have said they don’t have the votes to overturn Lamont’s veto. But lead organizer Barbara Fair says the effort won’t stop.

"I want them to hear our voices; I want them to know, because you know if we do not come here, we're talking to each other, they don't know how we feel, we want them to hear publicly how we feel about their lack of integrity, courage and doing the right thing,” she said.

In his veto message, Lamont said he supported the intent of the legislation, but he feared it would put the safety of both state employees and incarcerated people at risk.

Lamont’s executive orders say that, by September 1, people will only be held in confinement based upon their disciplinar status. By October 1, no one should be held in confinement based on disciplinary status, and people will be allowed to leave their cell two hours each day. On December 1, 2021, no one will be held in prolonged isolated confinement, and incarcerated persons, along with those in restrictive status programs, will be held in solitary confinement only due to disciplinary status