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Thursday, September 24 Local

Inmate dead, two nurses on leave at Osborn Correctional

An inmate died last week at Osborn Correctional Institution and two correctional nurses are on administrative leave following the incident.

Jose Peralta, 36, of Waterbury, died after hitting his head Jan. 9 in the Somers prison, according to the Connecticut Department of Correction.

The department is conducting an internal investigation into the incident that lead to Peralta’s death.

Department of Correction staff members found Peralta lying on his back on the floor of a dormitory area around 1 a.m., and took him to the onsite infirmary for treatment, according to a statement from the department. He was still conscious at that time, but when his condition deteriorated, staff initiated lifesaving measures and transferred him to a local emergency room where he was pronounced dead at 2:50 a.m., the department said.

After a preliminary review of the incident, the department placed two correctional nurses on administrative leave effective Friday, but did not provide further details of their involvement in the incident.

Peralta last entered the Department of Correction on Feb. 19, 2019, convicted on charges of assault and burglary.

Peralta is the second inmate to have died at Osborn Correctional Institution since July.

The state’s prison health care system has been under scrutiny since the Department of Corrections took over the health care system that serves inmates at Connecticut’s 14 prisons in July 2018, ending the decades-long, $100 million-a-year contract with UConn Health at that time. But the Connecticut Mirror reported in July that little has improved in the troubled system since then and that the department still lacks proper medical staffing.

As of March, the DOC had 309 nurses on staff to serve 13,320 inmates — a ratio of one nurse for every 43 inmates — and one medical provider, such as a doctor or physician assistant for every 579 inmates, according to information provided to the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis by the corrections department.

At that time, DOC outlined the referral process for inmates to receive specialty services, and indicated the state is no longer denying medically necessary services. The report also stated that the list of scheduled specialty services continues to grow, but that the department has started to encounter a back log due to provider availability.

Several medical lawsuits have been filed over the past two years related to the quality of care in Connecticut prisons, including the most recent, which involved a woman who alleges she was denied and delayed medical services, forcing her to give birth in her cell at York Correctional Institution in Niantic.

Osborn is a medium security facility located in Somers that houses about 10 percent of the state’s roughly 13,000 inmates. As prison populations in the state have declined, a portion of Osborn was closed in 2016.

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kkrasselt@hearstmediact.com; 203-842-2563; @kaitlynkrasselt

Kaitlyn Krasselt|Reporter

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