Learn what’s going on in Connecticut prisons through inmate letters – NBC Connecticut
Getting information about what’s going on inside Connecticut prisons isn’t easy. This often comes from the detainees’ families who call the journalists or from the detainees themselves who write the letters.
NBC Connecticut’s Mike Hydeck interviews Kelan Lyons, a CT Mirror court reporter who has covered state prisons extensively. He talks about a recent public hearing where letters from inmates were read aloud.
Mike Hydeck: “So recently, inmates presented their stories to the Judiciary Committee regarding segregation, many with allegations of abuse. When you saw and heard those stories, how do you think lawmakers reacted to that?”
Kelan Lyon: “Well, the inmates submitted written testimony. So it’s not like they’re testifying by video, but I certainly think that has an impact on advancing the dialogue on the subject. I mean, c “is a group of people who are rarely able to have their voices heard directly by those in power. And so it really shows how seriously they wanted to be taken by submitting so many letters. I think they have it did last year they did something similar where they, I think it’s there were about nine people who submitted written testimonies from jails or jails and this year there were 27 So it looks like there has been at least a bit more effort to submit more letters this year and to make sure those voices are heard.”
Mike Hydeck: “And I read some of the letters printed in the [CT] Mirror and they were captivating to say the least. So a bill, as you know, limiting the use of solitary confinement was actually passed by the legislature last year, but the governor vetoed it. Do you think this most recent bill has a better chance in your opinion? »
Kelan Lyon: “I do. I do. The governor vetoed the last bill. It was kind of a soft veto in that he agreed, he said he agreed with the principles of the bill, but he didn’t think it was good for the public So by vetoing that bill, he issued an executive order in its place, and that executive order tried to reduce the use of solitary confinement in jails and state jails This year, the Department of Correction or Commissioner Angel Quiros reached an agreement with Stop Solitary Connecticut, a prominent advocacy group that has been pushing for this for years, to limit the use of solitary confinement. And with this agreement, the administration, the Lamont administration told me that they support the work that the commissioner is doing, and that they could support a project bill if passed by the legislature without significant and serious changes, depending on how the bill of l oi evolves as it progresses.
Mike Hydeck: “Earlier in the show we interviewed a woman from Stop Solitary CT. She was concerned about the surveillance. She said it was very necessary moving forward. Is surveillance written into this legislation ?”
Kelan Lyon: “It is and it is one of the biggest pieces of legislation. And it seems to me that it is one of the biggest pieces of concessions that have been made in an agreement to cross the line of arrived at this bill. I haven’t seen the alternate language for the bill that came out of committee. But I’ve heard that it essentially codified many elements of the Governor’s Executive Order while also including some possibilities for oversight. There’s an ombudsman’s office that would be open, the system support staff for this external watchdog. And there would also be a civilian oversight board, which is kind of a sort of consultation for the ombuds that they can hear from concerned members of the community as they do their work.