Sen. Kissel Announces Bill to Increase Prison Guard Ranks Passes Judiciary Committee

March 25, 2008

Legislation would also require notification of all prison assault cases

State Senator John A. Kissel, R-Enfield, today announced that legislation that he has co-sponsored to increase the number of correction officers has overwhelmingly passed the legislature’s Judiciary committee. According to Sen. Kissel, Senate Bill 668 An Act Concerning Prison Overcrowding appropriates $10 million to the state Department of Correction (DOC) for the hiring of an additional 200 hundred correction officers. The legislation also calls upon the DOC Commissioner to develop a policy that would provide notification to the chief elected official of a municipality in which a correctional facility is located, and each member of the General Assembly representing such municipality, within 72 hours of an assault involving inmates or an inmate and a correction officer at that facility.

“I am very encouraged by the amount of support this legislation received from the Judiciary Committee and I want to personally thank the Committee Chairmen, Sen. Andrew McDonald and Rep. Michael Lawlor, for their support and efforts in getting this bill passed out of committee,” said Sen. Kissel, who serves as ranking Senator of the Judiciary Committee. “There is a very clear recognition of the need to give our correctional facilities the additional manpower to ensure the safety of the public and those who have the very difficult jobs of operating these facilities. In recent months we have seen an increase in the state’s inmate population, yet we haven’t increased the number of prison guards. This bill gives the hard working men and women who work in our prison system a much needed shot-in-the-arm in terms of additional manpower.”

A recent report conducted by the legislature’s Program Review and Investigations Committee (which Sen. Kissel also serves as ranking Senator) indicated that “front line” correction positions are more than 20% understaffed. He said that this may be a factor regarding a number of assault cases that have occurred in recent months involving inmates and correction officers. Sen. Kissel said that the legislative notification section of the bill is another component to making sure everything is being done to protect safety and security.

“I believe there may be a correlation between staffing levels and the number of assault cases that are occurring. That is why it is important that a clear line of communication between the DOC and local officials is formed. Should an incident occur within a facility, notification to the host municipality will help identify what needs to be done to prevent future incidents,” said Sen. Kissel. “We need to be proactive in making sure our correctional facilities are safe and secure and through this legislation I believe we are making a very large step in that direction.”