Getting information about what’s going on inside Connecticut prisons isn’t easy. This is often from the families of those in prison, who call reporters or write letters to the inmates themselves.
Mike Heideck of NBC Connecticut speaks with Kelan Lyons, a CT Mirror justice reporter who has extensively covered state prisons. He discusses a recent session in which letters from inmates were read aloud.
Mike Heideck: “So recently, inmates have submitted their stories of solitary confinement to the Justice Committee, many with allegations of insult. When you see and hear these stories, what do you think legislators reacted to?”
Kelan Lyons: “Well, the prisoners gave written testimony. So it wasn’t like they testified via video, but I definitely think it has an impact on the dialogue on this issue. I mean, it’s a group of people,” he said. who can rarely hear their voices directly from the powerful. And that really shows how serious they were by sending so many letters. I think they did something last year, where they found themselves. did the same. There were about nine people who gave written testimonies from prisons or jails. And this year he was 27. So it looks like at least a little more effort has been made this year. was to make these voices heard. “
Mike Heideck: “And I read some of the characters in the publication [CT] The mirror and they at least kept talking. So, as you know, the bill restricting the use of solitary confinement was passed by the legislature last year, but the governor vetoed it. Do you think this latest bill has a better chance at your expense? “
Kelan Lyons: “I will. I will. The governor vetoed the last bill. It was a kind of soft veto that he agreed to, he said he agreed with the principles of the law, but he didn’t think it was good for the society. So , by vetoing the bill, he instead issued an executive order, which sought to reduce the use of solitary confinement in state prisons and jails. This year, the Department of Corrections or Commissioner Angel. Connecticut’s great propagandist, who for years had been trying to limit the use of solitary confinement, came to an agreement. , if it passes through the legislature without significant change depending on how the bill changes during the passage.
Mike Heideck: “Earlier in the show, we interviewed a woman from Stop Solitary CT. She was worried about surveillance. She said this progress is very necessary. Is surveillance written in this legislation?”
Kelan Lyons: “This is and is one of the biggest pieces of legislation. And it seems to be one of the biggest pieces of concessions made in the agreement to bring this law to an end. I didn’t see a substitute language. For the bill that came out of the committee. But I I heard that it basically includes the codification of many elements of the governor’s executive order and also includes some oversight capabilities. There is an ombudsman’s office, which will be opened by system support staff. there will be a kind of consultation of ombudsmen that they can hear from interested members of the public while performing their work. “