Kissel Meets with DOC Commissioner About Reforms at Northern CI

January 22, 2010

Attends follow-up meeting to discuss effectiveness of efforts to enhance safety at Northern

State Senator John A. Kissel (R-Enfield) yesterday met with Department of Correction (DOC) Acting Commissioner Brian Murphy at DOC headquarters in Wethersfield with other legislators to discuss the effectiveness of initiatives to enhance order and safety at Northern Correctional Institution (Northern).

The meeting was arranged at the request of Senator Kissel as a follow up to the November 16th meeting where area legislators were first informed of the new initiatives.

“When I first learned of the efforts that were underway at Northern, I was very hopeful that it would net the results we were looking for,” said Sen. Kissel. “After several months, it is clear that we are headed in a good direction and while we still have a long way to go, these initiatives have been effective.”

The following are among the changes that have recently gone into effect:
• During the first four months of incarceration, every time an inmate is out of his cell, his hands must be chained behind his back. To accommodate phone calls, signing legal documents, etc, their hands will be chained in front but attached to ankle chains.
• A permanent canine unit will be stationed at Northern. When an inmate is taken from his cell, a canine unit will be present should he act out. Senator Kissel, who toured the facility on Wednesday, January 20th, had a chance to witness the canines first hand.
• Inmates with incorrigible behavior will be permanently housed at Northern.

Currently there are 4,000 correction officers in the system representing a 94-95% filled position ratio which is very high nationally and Northern is at 100%. In addition to changing behavior policies, DOC has continued sending disruptive inmates with mental health problems to institutions better equipped to deal with those types of inmates such as Garner CI in Newtown.

“Historically, Northern was a place feared by inmates, but recently it has lost some if it’s bite,” said Sen. Kissel. “The measures outlined above are just a few ways we are trying to restore Northern to a place where no inmate wants to go and this meeting confirmed that we are on the right track.”

“The acting Commissioner has done a tremendous job and Warden Quiros, Deputy Commissioner Strange and D.A. Lajoie have also been valuable parts of this process,” added Sen. Kissel. “I look forward to working with the DOC and our correction officers this upcoming session to support their efforts with thoughtful and effective legislation.”