A Connecticut inmate was confirmed dead this week after he was found with a cloth mask intended to prevent the spread of Covid-19 tied around his neck, according to the government reform department.
The chief medical examiner’s office said the inmate’s death was a suicide.
DOC spokesman Andreas Panevicius said in a statement that Daniel Ocasio, 32, was found shortly after 5 a.m. at the Corrigan-Radjowski Correctional Center in Montville, Connecticut, with a tie tied around his neck.
The statement said: “The laces were made of a cloth mask that was issued to the violating residents to prevent the spread of the new Corona virus.” DOC said staff tried to provide medical assistance and called 911. Okasio was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Panevicius said his death is under investigation by the DOC Security Department and Connecticut Police.
Ocasio, from Windsor, Connecticut, has been at the facility in the Uncasville area of Montville since Aug.5 on a third-degree burglary charge, according to DOC. He was on bail of $ 10,000.
His death comes at a time when prison reform advocates are sounding the alarm about the risks inmates face amid the coronavirus pandemic. Prisons and jails have become hotbeds of the virus and gatherings have been reported in correctional facilities across the country.
According to an analysis published in July by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the infection rate among inmates and inmates was about 5.5 times higher than the general population of the United States. The researchers said that the incidence rate of prisoners was 3,251 cases per 100,000 residents, compared to 587 cases per 100,000 residents.
The death rate for US prisoners was three times higher than the general population, adjusted for differences in age and sex. The analysis found 39 deaths per 100,000 inmates compared to 29 deaths per 100,000 in the general population.
More than 1,300 Connecticut inmates have tested positive for the Covid-19 virus, according to the Department of Corrections. At least seven have died.
In response to Ocasio’s death, the Connecticut American Civil Liberties Union called on the Corrections Department to complete a “full investigation,” saying it was the department’s “constitutional and moral responsibility” to keep inmates safe.
“Daniel Ocasio was supposed to be alive today, and DOC had a duty to prevent his death,” David McGuire, executive director of the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement Friday.
Asked about the ACLU’s statement, a DOC spokesperson Panevicius said the department’s investigation is continuing and declined any further comment until its completion.
He said, “However, it is sad and unfortunate that anyone made a conscious decision to commit suicide.”