Sen. Kissel Calls for Additional Canines at Northern CI

April 8, 2008

Says action would serve as deterrent against assaults at super-max facility

Following last week’s tour of the Northern Correctional Institution in Somers, state Sen. John A. Kissel, R-Enfield, today called for additional canine support at Connecticut’s only level 5 maximum-security facility for adult male inmates. Sen. Kissel said that while touring the facility he was able to speak with prison staff and many of them indicated the need to return to a former policy that included the use of more canines to assist prison guards with the job of keeping the facility secure.

In a letter sent today to Department of Correction (DOC) Commissioner Theresa C. Lantz, Sen. Kissel asked that the matter be taken into consideration. “During last week’s meeting, it was expressed to me by a number of Correctional Officers that they would like to go back to a policy of more canines for inmate extractions and other events to minimize risks to the officers themselves. The prison employees feel that increasing the number of canines on duty will enhance their safety as well as the safety of the inmates,” said Sen. Kissel. “No one knows better than the Correctional Officers that are on the ground how to best support their efforts at keeping the prison environment secured.”

He said he is also interested in obtaining information as to why the initial policy decision to reduce the number of canines was enacted in the first place. “I don’t know when this actually occurred but it seems to me that if there is any way we could reinstate this policy to give our prison guards that added layer of security then we should do it.”

Sen. Kissel stressed the importance of keeping an open line of communication with those who work in the correctional facilities. “It is so important to visit these facilities and meet with those who work on the front lines,” said Sen. Kissel. “We need to be proactive in giving our correction officers the necessary tools to ensure safety. There may be no greater deterrent than to have these highly trained dogs in place to assist the correction officer with the very difficult job of providing that safety.”