Sen. Kissel: Prison Incidents Raise Flag on Need for More Prison Guards

February 19, 2008

Has proposed legislation to increase staffing levels at state correctional facilities

In the wake of this past weekend’s fighting incidents at two state prisons, State Senator John A. Kissel, R-Enfield, today is urging the legislature to pass a measure that would increase the staffing levels at all of Connecticut’s correctional facilities. According to Sen. Kissel, three fights between inmates at the Enfield Correctional Institution in Enfield and one fight at the Osbourne Correctional Facility in Somers should send a message to the legislature that prison staffing levels need to be addressed during the current legislative session.

“While there is no indication that these incidents are related, it does shed light on how difficult and dangerous the jobs of those who keep watch over our state’s prison inmates really are,” said Sen. Kissel. “That is why I have proposed legislation this year that would increase staffing levels at all of our state’s prisons. Connecticut’s prison population has increased in recent months, and we need to be certain that our corrections officers have the appropriate tools available to them to ensure safety. The absolute first step in that process is to make sure these facilities are adequately staffed.”

Under Sen. Kissel’s legislation, appropriations to the Department of Corrections for staffing would be increased. The bill would also prioritize staff levels at facilities that have seen the greatest increase in inmate population over the past year. In her address before the legislature earlier this month, Gov. M Jodi Rell announced that she has included funding in her budget for an additional 125 correction officers. Sen. Kissel said that he is grateful that Gov. Rell has made this a priority this year and while there is growing support for the measure, incidents like this weekend’s shed a light on the need for additional manpower.

“The correctional officers on duty at the facilities did a tremendous job handling both situations by preventing any further escalation from occurring. They really do need to be commended,” said Sen. Kissel. “We, as a legislature, just need to do everything we can to ensure the public’s safety and the safety of the hardworking men and women who work in our correctional facilities,” said Sen. Kissel.