Saud Anwar

State Senator

Saud Anwar

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working For You

April 28, 2022

Senator Anwar Joins Senate Passage of Legislation Ensuring Prison Inmates Receive Proper Health Care

Legislation addresses physical and mental health of incarcerated people

Today, State Senator Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor), Senate Vice Chair of the Public Health Committee, joined the Senate in its passage of legislation ensuring incarcerated people receive full medical care. Connecticut, currently the only state where the Department of Corrections oversees and operates its inmate health care system, has seen that system lead to significant gaps in care that harm individuals’ long-term health. These have cost the state millions of dollars in lawsuits.

“No matter the history that causes someone to serve a prison sentence, they still have basic rights, including the right to receive health care,” said Sen. Anwar. “In our state, many have suffered and some have died without receiving that basic aid. This bill serves our state in ensuring incarcerated people receive health care services that will aid them both acutely and preventatively. It further will seek to reduce, and hopefully end, incidents where incarcerated people who suffer without care sue the state – which has cost Connecticut millions of dollars in the past.”

Senate Bill 448, “An Act Concerning The Delivery of Health Care and Mental Health Care Services To Inmates of Correctional Institutions,” seeks to address the issue of inmate care. The legislation would require the Department of Correction to develop a plan for the provision of health care services, including mental health care, substance use disorder and dental care services to inmates. The plan would include the following requirements:

  • Additional mental health therapists placed at each correctional institution in the state
  • Those care providers would provide mental health services for inmates requesting or referring such services, once it’s determined an inmate needs such services
  • Mental health care providers can only administer or prescribe psychotropic medications to inmates upon full review of mental health and medical history
  • Inmates will receive annual physical exams by physicians, physician assistants or nurses, as well as within two weeks of entering a correctional institution
  • Inmates needing medical or mental health housing will receive necessary accommodations
  • Inmates will receive exit interviews within two weeks of discharge, including discussion of medical discharge plans for continued care or treatment needed
  • A physician will be on-call 24/7 on site to aid inmates
  • Within ten weeks of entry of correctional institution and at least once annually, inmates will receive access to necessary and approved vaccinations and dental examinations with dental care recommendations made
  • Inmates can receive HIV tests upon request at time of entry to correctional institutions or during annual physical assessments
  • Inmates will be interviewed regarding drug and alcohol use history and care will be taken to monitor them in case of withdrawal syndromes

The legislation further establishes an advisory committee for the advisory of the Commissioner of Correction regarding health care services, monitoring whether a state agency like the Department of Public Health should have oversight over such services, and reviewing all reports involving death or health of inmates.

In 2016, the Department of Corrections reported 25 prisoner medical cases that went wrong, including eight inmate deaths; several of those cases led to lawsuits, costing the state millions. In March 2019, the Office of Fiscal Analysis reported the Department of Corrections had just one nurse on staff for every 43 inmates and one doctor or physician assistant on staff for every 579 prisoners, indicating inadequate health care.

The bill now moves to the House; it previously passed the Public Health Committee by a 26-3 vote in March.