The ACLU of RI and the RI Center for Justice have sent a letter to RIDOC Director Patricia Coyne-Fague over plans for a multi-day lockdown of ACI prisoners so that correctional officers can partake in “National Correctional Officers’ Week” events, including a cookout with golf and volleyball elsewhere in Cranston and a “Family Night” tour of ACI cellblocks.

According to information posted on the RI Brotherhood of Correctional Officers’ Facebook page, the ACI will be locked down for a substantial part of four days beginning the week of September 19th so these events can occur. During this lockdown, most activities, including education, exercise, programming and perhaps meals and showers will be on hold for all inmates.

The organizations point out that one of the lockdowns is to accommodate a day-long cookout on Mulligan’s Island where COs and their families will enjoy golf, volleyball and other activities. The food for the cookout has typically been prepared by RIDOC inmates, who will be in lockdown during the meal. Another lockdown is for “Family Night” where families of officers will be allowed to tour ACI facilities, including inmates’ cells and living spaces. The two groups argue that it is “completely inappropriate” to implement lockdowns “that do not directly serve safety, security or other compelling government interest.”

The organizations also called it “reckless to allow dozens of visitors, who are not there to conduct any actual business,” to walk through the facilities given the prevalence of the COVID Delta variant, noting that the “CDC has designated Rhode Island as a state with a ‘very high’ risk of transmission and encouraged prisons to limit non-essential tours of facilities.”

In their letter, the ACLU of RI and the RI Center for Justice call on RIDOC to cancel all scheduled events at the ACI that would introduce COs’ family or friends into communal and living areas, and to prevent the imposition of totally unjustified lockdowns in violation of prisoners’ basic rights.

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