Senator Kissel Opposes Proposal To Cut Corrections Department Funding

February 6, 2003

Senator John A. Kissel, R-Enfield, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, today called the Democrats’ proposal to slash the State Department of Corrections budget by $10 million as part of their most recent plan to resolve the state’s fiscal crisis “potentially dangerous”.

“Cutting $10 million from the prison system without outlining exactly where the reductions would be made is not only unsupportable, but it is potentially dangerous. Trying to save an additional $3.5 million by proposing to delay opening the MacDougall-Walker expansion until July 1 raises even more questions,” said Senator Kissel, whose district includes three communities – Enfield, Somers and Suffield – that host six of the state’s correctional facilities, including the MacDougall-Walker Reception/Special Management Unit.
Senator Kissel said he has a long list of questions for Democrats who advocate such a drastic cut in the Department of Corrections budget.

“Among other things, I want to know whether these proposed savings would be generated by layoffs, keeping in mind that staffing levels at our prisons is an ongoing concern. I want to know how these budget cuts would affect inmate services and programs. The last thing we want to do is create a hostile prison environment, thus placing staff, inmates and residents of the surrounding communities in danger,” said Senator Kissel.
Senator Kissel, a staunch opponent of further prison expansion in his district, said he is puzzled by the Democrats’ proposal to delay the planned opening of a prison addition.

“How can it make sense to talk about a so-called need for expanding the prison complex in Somers at the same time some legislators want to save money by delaying the planned opening of a prison expansion in nearby Suffield? Residents of these communities have been told by state officials that the MacDougall-Walker expansion is necessary, just as advocates for putting new beds in Somers have been making the same claims about this new proposal. Has something happened to change that? We need to know how pushing back the opening of the MacDougall-Walker expansion would affect the entire prison system. And, I certainly want to know how delaying the opening affects any of the state funding, including PILOT money, that the host community, Suffield, has been led to expect,” said Senator Kissel.

“Of course, I am opposed to this proposed reduction in the state Department of Corrections budget and will do my best to convince other legislators to join me in this opposition,” said Senator Kissel.