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Connecticut inmate found dead with face mask tied around his neck

Connecticut inmate found dead with face mask tied around his neck
© Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

A Connecticut prison inmate was found dead this week with a cloth mask intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus tied around his neck.

His death was ruled as a suicide by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, CNN reported.

Daniel Ocasio, 32, was found early on Wednesday with a ligature around his neck, the state's Department of Correction (DOC) spokesman Andrius Banevicius said in a statement.

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"The ligature was made from the cloth mask issued to the offender population to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus," the statement added.

Prison staff tired to help Ocasio by giving him medical attention before he was sent to a hospital and pronounced dead.

Ocasio was a resident of Windsor, Ct. He had been an inmate at the prison facility since August 5 over charges of third-degree burglary, the DOC said.

His bond was set at $10,000, and it is unclear whether he was seeking legal counsel.

His death comes as the prison population has proven to be at an elevated risk of contracting the novel COVID-19 virus due to the close quarters inmates share.

According to an analysis published by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the infection rate among inmates is reportedly 5.5 times higher than in the overall U.S. population.

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Over 1,300 inmates in Connecticut prisons have tested positive for COVID-19 since the outbreak began in the U.S., the DOC reported.

Following Ocasio's death, the American Civil Liberties Union called for a "full investigation" into the Department of Corrections regarding the situation.

"Daniel Ocasio should still be alive today, and the DOC had a duty to prevent his death," ACLU of Connecticut Executive Director David McGuire said in a statement Friday.

Banevicius told CNN that the DOC investigation is ongoing and did not provide further deatils. However, he added that, "it is saddening and unfortunate when anyone makes the conscious decision to take their own life," he said.

People experiencing suicidal thoughts or urges can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.