Accomplishments in 2006

January 1, 2006

For a third straight year, the Connecticut Department of Correction has sustained a downward trend in its incarcerated inmate population for 2005, bringing the number of offenders to below 18,000. This is the first time in more than 15 years that such a prolonged reduction has been achieved. Commissioner Theresa C. Lantz credits the continuing decrease to her administration's shift to a Re-Entry correctional model, which gives priority to supporting the successful community reintegration of offenders. The past year also saw a further increase in the number of appropriate offenders who are being supervised in the community as a means of bridging their re-entry into law abiding society.

January 27, 2006

Based on the requirements of the Connecticut Supreme Court decision in the case of Harris/Hunter/Cox v. Commissioner, the Department of Correction reviewed nearly 6,000 inmate records for recalculation of pre-sentence credit. In particular, the Management Information Systems Unit identified the 5,856 cases that required review, the staff of Central Records developed and implemented the action plan that was utilized for the recalculations and records staff at the facility level reviewed each file, ultimately amending 511 release dates. The effort has been recognized for the teamwork, dedication and professionalism that it displayed.

February 3, 2006

With the appointment of Esther Torres as Warden of the Willard-Cybulski, Correctional Institution, Commissioner Theresa C. Lantz has promoted the first Hispanic woman to that level of leadership in the history of the agency. Warden Torres joined the Department of Correction in 1989 as a Correctional Services Aide and has steadily progressed through the ranks, rising to the rank of Major at the Northern Correctional Institution, the state's maximum-security men's facility in July of 2003. As Warden of Willard-Cybulski CI, she will oversee an 1,100 inmate, Level Two facility which serves as a treatment hub for the agency's health care consolidation.

February 14, 2006

The Connecticut Department of Correction Hospice Program was honored by the Yale University School of Nursing as well as by a proclamation authored by Governor M. Jodi Rell. Started six years ago, and currently in operation at both the York Correctional Institution for women and the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution for men, the program trains offenders to provide end of life and palliative care to other inmates. The School of Nursing bestowed its Excellence in Caring Award on the program citing it for innovative approaches to providing compassionate care, promoting quality of life and providing death with dignity. Governor Rell's proclamation declared February 14, 2006 as Connecticut Prison Hospice Day in recognition of the innovative potential of inmates to care for their peers at the end of life. So far the program has resulted in three classes of inmate volunteers having been trained at each facility, totaling 49 male offenders and 59 women.

February 22, 2006

The Connecticut Department of Correction has been recognized for its continuing support of the Connecticut Special Olympics. During its annual award ceremony the charity noted that the Department of Correction had donated $49,679.54 over the course of the past year, with the top fund raising facility award going to the Cheshire Correctional Institution which alone raised more than $10,000 of that total.

February 23, 2006

The Connecticut Department of Correction was among those recognized with the Demand Response Achievement Award by the New England region's electric utility grid managers. The agency was honored with ISO New England's 2005 Demand Response Achievement Award for its extraordinary dedication to insuring that electrical power will be available when needed. During periods of peak electricity usage, the Department discontinues the use of electricity from the regional grid and resorts to generator power, thus reducing the overall load and providing power for use by other customers. The four honorees were together credited with contributing a response electrical capacity equivalent to the power required for 30,000 homes.

March 9, 2006

A final tally shows that the dedicated men and women of the Connecticut Department of Correction donated a total of $164,091.65 to the 2005 Connecticut State Employees' Campaign for Charitable Giving. The once a year campaign funds more than 900 charities which provide a broad range of assistance from shelter for the homeless, to care for children and seniors to medical research. The staff of the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution contributed the largest amount, $24,668, while the Gates Correctional Institution showed the greatest increase in participation, up 52% to $16,641.

April 3, 2006

In furtherance of its mission of supporting the successful reintegration of offenders, the Connecticut Department of Correction has instituted an Offender Accountability Plan. This plan acts as a contract with the offender, setting expectations, both behaviorally and programmatically at the start of a period of incarceration. The individualized Accountability Plan establishes objectives to be addressed during the inmate's sentence based on needs, such as education, substance abuse treatment, etc, which are identified through the assessment and objective classification process. The Plan also makes clear to the offender that failure to comply with these expectations will negatively impact the discretionary consideration for placement in a community transition program.

April 17, 2006

The Connecticut Department of Correction has added its extensive criminal justice skills to the Connecticut Intelligence Center (CTIC); a multi jurisdictional effort to gather, analyze and disseminate criminal and terrorism related intelligence to law enforcement agencies across Connecticut. The Department has assigned a supervisor, full time to the operation, which seeks to identify emerging threats and crime trends. Additionally, Commissioner Theresa C. Lantz has been named to the CTIC Advisory Board joining the Commissioner of the State Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, the Commissioner of Public Safety, the Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven FBI Field Office, and the President of the Connecticut Police Chief's Association.

April 21, 2006

Commissioner Theresa C. Lantz was recognized by the Tunxis Community College Foundation for her outstanding service to the institution over the course of the past five years. The award was presented on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the Foundation. Commissioner Lantz has not only served as an adjunct professor at the College, but has also served on the school's Criminal Justice Advisory Board. With a long-standing priority on training and education, she has been a strong supporter of the College's Criminal Justice Command Institute, which has prepared many managers within the Connecticut Department of Correction for their future professional challenges and endeavors.

May 16, 2006

Connecticut Correction Officer Edward Arasimowicz of the Hartford Correctional Center was recognized with the National Medal of Valor by Corrections USA. Without regard for his personal safety, Officer Arasimowicz responded without hesitation on June 18, 2005, when an inmate, armed with a sharpened weapon, attempted to take a correctional supervisor hostage. He subdued the inmate and dislodged the weapon without injuries to anyone involved. The non-profit agency selected Arasimowicz from among 80 applications, which were submitted nationally. The Medal was presented in ceremonies, which took place in Arlington, Virginia. Officer Arasimowicz will be featured on a Corrections USA poster which will be distributed to correction agencies across the country.

May 22, 2006

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2005 report, the Connecticut Department of Correction is one of only 12 state correctional agencies in the country to have achieved a reduction in its inmate population, during the 12-month period ending June 30, 2005. The Department is credited with a 1.4- percent decrease in its offender count. Nationally, the incarceration rate rose 2.6% for this period of time. This continues the downward trend in the inmate population that the agency began in 2003. Commissioner Theresa C. Lantz has credited the reduction to the beneficial effects of the Re-Entry Model implemented under her administration and its associated increase in collaboration among state agencies, which serve and/or supervise the offender population.

June 1, 2006

The Connecticut Department of Information Technology (DOIT) has reported that the Department of Correction website was visited 1.03-million times between June 1, 2005 and June 1, 2006. The site is maintained as a public service and as a means of protecting the public by providing an offender look up feature as well as information that allows victims to register with the agency for updates on the status of a particular inmate. Additionally, DOIT recorded nearly 86,000 downloads, the second highest of any state agency site, for a combination of corectional facility program compendium pages as well as the Money Order Remitter Form used to send money to the Inmate Trust Fund.

June 20, 2006

Based on nationwide balloting, the Reverend Anthony J. Bruno, Director of Religious Services for the Connecticut Department of Correction has been elected President of the American Correctional Chaplains Association (ACCA). The Association is the national professional organization for pastoral care personnel in the corrections field and is an affiliate of the American Correctional Association. Father Bruno was ordained in May 1968 and joined the Department in 1987 becoming Director in 1999. He has served at a number of parishes in Connecticut and is a retired Lieutenant Colonel with the U. S. Army Reserve. He is one of only approximately 40 A.C.C.A. certified chaplains in the country. Also re-elected as the National Secretary for the Association was the Reverend Lori Etter of the York Correctional Institution.

June 27, 2006

At the direction of Commissioner Theresa C. Lantz, a Re-Entry Working Group has been established under the leadership of Programs and Treatment Division Director Mary Marcial. The Group is intended to enhance public safety by furthering the agency’s commitment to support the successful re-entry of offenders into the community. The Group has been charged with developing an effective and standardized system of transition to law abiding society through a community supervision model that ultimately will enhance public safety and contribute to a reduction in recidivism by reinforcing positive offender behavioral modification.

June 30, 2006

Under the supervision of the nationally accredited Maloney Center for Training and Staff Development, the agency has completed two major components of a Distance Learning Pilot Program. At Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center, 275 staff members successfully completed computer based training in Video Camera Procedures. Meanwhile, at Central Office, 338 participants received computer based training in Workplace Violence. The program is designed to more efficiently and effectively provide required training to staff through the utilization of modern technology. The agency is now exploring a department wide expansion of the program

Through strategic planning and strict adherence to accounting principals, the Fiscal Services Unit was able to far exceed the set aside goals that had been anticipated for Fiscal Year 2006 in the areas of Minority Business and Small Business contracts with the Connecticut Department of Correction. The Small Business set aside goal was surpassed by 233 percent, while the Minority Business mark was bested by 248 percent.

July 6, 2006

As part of its continuing commitment to the safety of the citizens of the State of Connecticut, the Department of Correction has entered into a working relationship with the American Red Cross, Charter Oak Chapter to jointly prepare for public disasters. The agency has completed a memorandum of agreement with the Red Cross regarding the preparation and providing of meals should they be needed in large quantities in times of crisis. Under a second memorandum the Department will store Red Cross disaster supplies, including some 9,000 cots, in addition to blankets and cleaning kits so that they may be readily available when and if they are needed.

July 7, 2006

Ninety members of the Department of Correction tactical units have been trained as emergency first responders in accordance with a Homeland Security Directive, issued by President George Bush. The Directive orders the development of a National Incident Management System, which would enable government, private sector and non-governmental organizations to work together during domestic incidents. During the two day training, members of the Correctional Emergency Response Team (CERT), the Special Operations Group (SOG) Situational Control (SITCON) and K-9 received instruction in incident command and staff functions, planning, logistics and mobilization functions that would be necessary during such an emergency. Additional staff will be trained in future sessions.

August 31, 2006

The Connecticut Department of Correction has achieved more than half of its annual Affirmative Action goals for hiring during fiscal 2006. In addition to the 50.5 percent level reached in hiring, an increase of nearly seven points from the previous year, the promotional goals that were achieved grew 10 points from the previous year to 44.6 percent. The combination of hiring and promotions gave the agency a combined total of 48.6 percent goal achievement. These efforts in the area of Affirmative Action sustained the agency’s high level of diversity with people of color accounting for 32.5 percent of the workforce and women making up 25.7 percent. With this accomplishment, the Department remains one of the most diverse in state government.

September 1, 2006

Commissioner Theresa C. Lantz has appointed Randy Braren as the new Director of Parole and Community Services to further enhance the Department's community reintegration efforts. Mr. Braren brings more than 25 years of parole, offender re-entry and community based programmatic experience to the role. He began with the Department of Correction in 1981 as a front line officer. In 1985 he became an officer with the then Board of Parole and progressed to Director of Operations with supervision over the Field Office and Hearings Division. Mr. Braren directed the establishment of the first Fugitive Recovery Team and Sex Offender Management Unit under the Board. He later worked for two non-profit community social service agencies which support offender re-entry. With his appointment, Commissioner Lantz has elevated Parole and Community Services to the level of a division reporting directly to her office.

A pilot program, which funds aftercare programming for offenders at five halfway houses across the state, has produced impressive results. In the first year of operation, of the 204 offenders who received the Aftercare Services, only 9 were reincarcerated with just five others in violation status. The program provides offenders with assistance in such areas as relapse prevention and employment services in the first three months following release from prison with further follow up for one year after discharge from the residential program. This continuing link between offender and case manager, overseen by a supervising parole officer, insures that problems that may arise early in re-entry can be quickly and effectively addressed.

September 19, 2006

The Department's Management of Information Systems Unit has completed a highly collaborative DNA data sharing project with the Court Support Services Division of the State's Judicial Branch. The project allows the agency and CSSD to provide each other with downloads of data indicating which felons have been subjected to DNA swabs as is required by state law. This insures that duplicate swabs will not be taken and costly analysis will not be repeated. The initial downloads resulted in some 6,800 records from CSSD updating DOC records.

October 25, 2006

A new vocational program was celebrated with the graduation of 16 offenders from a Certified Nursing Assistant course at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution. The program provides the offenders with a state certificate that will allow them to be employed as nurses' aides in hospitals and nursing homes, assisting the elderly and disabled with daily activities they can not longer perform on their own. The inmates, who met strict eligibility guidelines and completed 170 hours of instruction, are currently working in the prison's infirmary. The program, which is a collaboration of the Department's Health and Addictions Services Unit and the University of Connecticut's Correctional Managed Health Care, will be expanded to other facilities.

October 31, 2006

With the connection of the Gates Correctional Institution to the agency’s computer network, the Connecticut Department of Correction has now brought all of its 18 correctional facilities on line. Since July of 2004, a total of seven facilities have been added to the network. Computer access has also been enhanced for the four Parole and Community Services offices across the state. To date, some $4-million has been spent on the project, making the system compliant with the new Connecticut Justice Information Standards as well as with the security standards required for the COLLECT criminal record database.

November 1, 2006

The Connecticut Department of Correction Leadership Excellence and Development (LEaD) Program, has been recognized with the prestigious 2006 Innovative Approaches Award by the International Association of Correctional Training Personnel. The LEaD Program, which mentors the Department's future leaders, was acknowledged for its unique blended approach that includes classroom based competency development, executive coaching, use of 360 degree feedback and action learning groups. The Program was established in the spring of 2005 in response to the realization that 80 percent of the current command staff is immediately eligible for retirement and 50 percent of the hazardous duty staff will be able to retire by 2014.

December 19, 2006

In collaboration with 211 Infoline, a corrections specific Internet web page has been produced to assist offenders returning to the community, as well as their families, with the issues of reintegration. The web page, which is linked off of the Department of Correction web page under the heading, Offender Re-Entry Assistance, consists of a clearinghouse of constantly updated information on crucial topics such as housing, employment and mental health care. The information is provided in furtherance of the agency's commitment to providing opportunities that support the successful community reintegration of offenders.