Accomplishments in 2007

January 1, 2007

For the fourth consecutive year, the Connecticut Department of Correction has increased the number of offenders who have been placed in the community under supervision in furtherance of the agency's Re-Entry Model. In total, 10,684 offenders participated in all forms of community placement including halfway houses, parole, transitional supervision and re-entry furlough. This compares to a rate of 8,860 inmates placed in the community, which the agency achieved in 2003.

After a comprehensive and systemic effort to combat the occurrence of self-harm by the offender population, the Connecticut Department of Correction completed calendar year 2006 with only one completed inmate suicide. This compares to seven completed suicides in 2005 and nine in 2004. Enhanced vigilance by staff and more frequent tours in newly created orientation units are credited with the success. During 2006 staff successfully intervened in 153 suicide attempts.

January 15, 2007

The Department of Correction launched a new Intranet site, DOCWEB that is available to all DOC staff. As a means of keeping some 7,000 correctional professionals informed and connected, the new site includes the latest news articles about the agency, Administrative Directives, training information, the agency newsletter Pride at Work, MRSA precautions, departmental history and other beneficial information. It replaces an earlier Intranet site and is designed to be available without the security issues that an Internet connection poses.

February 1, 2007

A six month effort by correctional staff has resulted in the agency's first "Offender Input Focus Group" study. Approximately 160 offenders and ex-offenders from seven facilities and one halfway house were interviewed as to the effectiveness of departmental programming in aiding their re-entry into society. They were also queried as to what barriers had hampered their successful reintegration. Among the issues noted were employment, addiction, homelessness and identification. The results will be used to enhance the Department's Re-Entry Model to better address the needs of offenders who are nearing the end of their sentences. Additional studies will be conducted on a regular basis.

February 7, 2007

By the unanimous vote of all 34 State Senators present, Commissioner Theresa C. Lantz has been reconfirmed as the head of the Connecticut Department of Correction. Governor M. Jodi Rell had renominated Commissioner Lantz to continue in the agency's leadership role. "Commissioner Lantz is the consummate corrections professional…who has insured the safety and security of the state's correctional facilities," said the Governor. Before the vote was taken in the Senate, four ranking members of the body, including the chairs of the Executive Nomination, Appropriations and Public Safety Committees praised Commissioner Lantz's record of achievement.

February 15, 2007

In a prominent national study on prison population growth, the State of Connecticut was cited as a model for managing rising inmate admissions by investing in enhancing re-entry and reducing recidivism instead of building new facilities. The report by the Pew Charitable Trusts projected the country's prison population will rise by nearly 200,000 offenders over the next five years at a cost of more than $27-billion. Connecticut however, was one of just three states that is projected to experience no growth over that time period.

February 22, 2007

The MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution has been recognized by Special Olympics Connecticut as the top facility/department fund raiser among the state's law enforcement community for 2006. At the Annual Kickoff Luncheon for the Connecticut Law Enforcement Torch Run, attended by some 300 members of local and state law enforcement agencies, Warden John Seiminski and members of his staff were honored for having gathered $17,156 in support of those with intellectual disabilities.

February 23, 2007

Two members of the Connecticut Department of Correction have been honored for their role in a major drug investigation involving the Diablos motorcycle gang during the Drug Enforcement Administration's New England Field Division's annual awards ceremony. The 21-month investigation led to the arrest of the Diablo's national vice-president, Connecticut chapter president as well as 16 additional suspects, along with the seizure of 84 grams of cocaine, 16 pounds of marijuana, $3,000 in U.S. currency and nine guns.

February 27, 2007

The Department of Correction successfully participated in the Statewide Pandemic Exercise conducted by IBM and the State Department of Administrative Services. The exercise is meant to prepare for the potential effects of the Avian Flu or other mass casualty disease on the functioning of state government. The Department had previously conducted a successful agency wide Pandemic Exercise.

March 1, 2007

As part of the agency's commitment to the progressive and innovative treatment of offenders with mental health needs, the Parole and Community Services Division has implemented a Mental Health Unit. The Unit, made up of five parole officers who have received specialized training, works to support offenders with mental health issues who are released to the community under supervision. The officers seek to insure that the unique needs of these individuals are addressed to reduce their potential for recidivism. In particular, the officers work to provide the offender a continuum of appropriate treatment from the correctional facility to providers in the community.

March 27, 2007

Based on the leadership responsible for the continuing success achieved by the Connecticut Department of Correction, Governor M. Jodi Rell swore in Theresa C. Lantz as Commissioner of the agency. The administration of the oath of office was conducted in the Governor's chambers at the State Capitol and was witnesses by the Commissioner's Executive Team. First appointed in 2003, Commissioner Lantz is the sixth person to lead the agency in its nearly 40 year history.

June 5, 2007

Deputy Commissioner of Operations, Brian K. Murphy, a 26-year veteran of the Connecticut Department of Correction has been recognized by the Middle Atlantic States Correctional Association with the prestigious Carl Robinson Award. The Award, named for the state's first African American warden who became a national authority on progressive, programmatic corrections, is presented to an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership and has made significant contributions to the correctional field. Deputy Commissioner Murphy was selected based on his exceptional leadership skills proven throughout his career, his extensive correctional management expertise and on his creation of the Department's gang management model, which is widely viewed as the national standard in the field.

June 20, 2007

Commissioner Theresa C. Lantz has notified the agency's majors that based on the evolving demands of their positions, their titles have been upgraded to the rank of Deputy Warden. Commissioner Lantz, with the assistance of the Department's Human Resources Unit had worked with the State Department of Administrative Services for more than nine months on the reclassification of the Major's position, which will no longer be utilized. The specifications for the position had not been addressed since 1987. The change will also address the issue of wage compression created by the unionization of the Captain and Counselor Supervisor ranks.

June 21, 2007

Senior Systems Developer Pei Ti Lee has been recognized as one of the, "Best in the Business" by Corrections Today magazine. The national publication, produced by the American Correctional Association headlined the full page story about Ms. Lee as, "Technology Wiz Leads And Mentors With Patience." The article quotes Commissioner Theresa C. Lantz as saying that, "Without Pei Ti Lee, The Connecticut Department of Correction would no doubt struggle in tasks that we now take for granted because of her." The 18- year veteran is described as being known for her rapid accomplishment of difficult tasks and for increasing the computer literacy of agency staff. Management of Information Services Director Robert Cosgrove is quoted as saying, "She never ceases to amaze me!"

June 25, 2007

As a substantial first step in replacing its 35-year old, computerized offender information system, the Department of Correction has hired an Executive Project Manager. In addition to developing the parameters for a new system, he will also plan the coordination of the many disparate information technology systems that the department utilizes both internally and externally with in the criminal justice community.

June 28, 2007

After only a few hours of deliberations, a Hartford Superior Court jury vindicated Connecticut Department of Correction staff, in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of Inmate Bryant Wiseman. He died in 1999, at the Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown as staff valiantly tried to save fellow officers whom Wiseman was in the process of assaulting. The jury's verdict affirmed that correctional staff did not utilize excessive force during the incident.

July 23, 2007

Through the efforts of the dedicated educational professionals of Unified School District #1, acclaimed entertainer Bill Cosby appeared as the commencement speaker for a GED graduation at the Willard-Cybulski Correctional Institution. With a doctorate degree in education, Cosby drew upon a combination of humor, insight and mentoring in urging the graduates to take full advantage of this positive change in the direction of their lives. After the ceremony, Dr. Cosby expressed praise for the Connecticut Department of Correction and its commitment to prepare offenders for their return to the community.

August 12, 2007

To better address the critical need for substance abuse treatment among the offender population, the Health and the Addiction Services Unit (ASU) has begun delivering gender-specific, Tier 1 and Tier 2 substance abuse treatment to the female offenders assigned to the Charlene Perkins Re-Entry Center (CPC) at the York Correctional Institution. To enhance those treatment services the ASU Substance Abuse Counselors assigned to that project are collaborating with the CPC staff to develop a Peer Mentoring program.

August 20, 2007

A unique supportive housing program, which seeks to break the cycle of incarceration for previously homeless offenders, has been recognized with a regional Innovation Award by the Council of State Governments. The Byrne Supportive Housing Pilot Program, a collaboration of the Connecticut Department of Correction and the Community Renewal Team provides supervised apartments, substance abuse treatment and case management for up to two years to discharging parolees returning to Hartford. The program is aimed at enhancing public safety and has achieved a re-arrest rate that is half of the statewide average.

October 1, 2007

The Connecticut Department of Correction in collaboration with the Department of Information Technology has implemented the AdvancePay telephone system for inmate calls. The program allows families to place as little as five dollars into a pre-paid debit account that can be added to through checks, credit cards or through Western Union. The AdvancePay offers telephone rates that are 25 percent less than the traditional collect call system, but still retains the important security features that allow for the monitoring and recording of all inmate calls. As of the middle of October, AdvancePay was also extended to international calling, which had previously been unavailable to the inmate population.

October 10, 2007

In accordance with Public Act No. 02-75, one hundred percent of DOC Correctional Substance Abuse Counselor Supervisors and Counselors, a total of 93 staff has achieved licensure or certification through the CT Department of Public Health and the Connecticut Certification Board.

October 15, 2007

In response to a challenge issued by Commissioner Theresa C. Lantz, Unified School District #1 has surpassed her request that 1,000 offenders achieved their GEDs during the 2006-2007 school year. To date, 1,041 inmates have successfully passed the exam since July 1, 2006. The Manson Youth Institution had the highest number of students who passed the exam at 83. The Bergin Correctional Institution was second with 78. The Hartford Correctional Center achieved the largest increase over last year with a 50 percent jump in GEDs awarded. In all 14 of 18 facilities were successful in increasing their rate of inmate passage on the exam.

October 19, 2007

The Connecticut Department of Correction's Gang Intelligence Unit has been publicly recognized for its role in "Operation Royal Flush." The round up which resulted in more than 100 gang related arrests was carried out in association with the Waterbury Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Additionally, numerous gun and drug seizures were made along with the identification and designation of more than 30 active members of the Latin Kings gang.

October 20, 2007

Work has been completed on the development of an Offender Accountability Plan (OAP) manual. A number of improvements were implemented to streamline the process and provide a more realistic approach to an offender's plan. For example, the number of programs recommended is dependent on the amount of time an offender is serving. In addition, other disciplines (Addiction Service and Education) were added to the process so the appropriate staff members are making recommendations for their area of expertise. The Offender Accountability Plan is utilized at the beginning of an incarceration to identify an offender's deficiencies and develop a strategy to positively address them.

November 3, 2007

Commissioner Theresa C. Lantz and Islamic Chaplain Imam Abdul Karim Hasan, are among those who have been recognized with the Testimony to Leadership Award by the Muhammad Islamic Center of Hamden, Connecticut. The Award is annually presented to those who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in their respective fields of endeavor and for exceptional community service.

November 15, 2007

Through the Department's commitment to enhance employee wellness, Intimate Partner Violence training for York Correctional Institution staff was completed and inmate training began the last week of November. This was a joint effort between the Department of Correction, Correctional Managed Health Care and the Women's Consortium.

November 15, 2007

As a means of addressing the deficiency in information sharing within Connecticut's criminal justice community, identified in the wake of the Cheshire tragedy, a new web portal has been created which will allow the Department of Correction as well as Board of Pardons and Paroles the ability to view judicial sentencing transcripts. Also available will be Adult Probation Pre-Sentence Investigation information.