Accomplishments in 2008

January 14, 2008

With a standing ovation, from the attendees of the national, winter meeting of the American Correctional Association, Connecticut Department of Correction Officer Anthony Morris was presented with the organization's 2008 Medal of Valor. Morris saved the life of fellow Officer Wanda Barros, during a savage inmate assault at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution on May 21, 2006. The inmates acted in retaliation for an earlier confiscation of contraband that Officer Barros had carried out. Despite having been on the job for just over two year, Morris quickly activated the facility emergency alert system, and then came to his colleagues aid, engaging the two attacking inmates and placing himself between them and the unconscious officer. The moving tribute to Morris, at the ACA meeting in Texas, was witnessed by Commissioner Theresa C. Lantz who was in attendance. Morris was also awarded the agency's Medal of Valor in 2007.

January 17, 2008

The Reverend Anthony Bruno, the Director of Religious Services for the Connecticut Department of Correction, has been notified that he has been selected as one of the two national recipients for the prestigious E.R. Cass Award, which annually is the highest honor bestowed by the American Correctional Association (ACA). The E.R. Cass Award was created in 1962 to honor the former general secretary and president emeritus of the ACA. It is in the spirit of Edward Cass and in recognition of his ideals of devotion and distinction to the work and interests of the ACA and for service above and beyond the call of duty that the award is presented. Reverend Bruno, who will celebrate his 40th anniversary of ordination in 2008, has served with the Connecticut Department of Correction since 1987 and as Director since 1999.

February 1, 2008

The most recent recidivism study from the State of Connecticut, Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division indicates that the re-entry efforts of the Department of Correction continue to result in lower recidivism rates. The 2008 report assesses recidivism rates of offenders released during the 2004 calendar year. It used a baseline sample of 16,577 offenders released from DOC custody. The report found that, "Offenders with the highest success rate and least likely to recidivate were those under DOC community supervision: released to community programs 67.3% and Transitional Supervision, 64.5%. Arrest, conviction and new prison sentence rates were higher for offenders with no post prison supervision.

February 9, 2008

The Reverend Dr. Laurie W. Etter has been selected by the United Church of Christ to receive the prestigious 2008 Julius Varwig Award. The Award has been presented nationally since 1989 to a chaplain or counselor who demonstrates dedication and commitment to serve persons in the spirit exemplified by the first full time Protestant chaplain in the United States. In the late 1800's Reverend Varwig began to serve people regardless of religious affiliation and devoted himself to serving those under care in public health care institutions, giving rise to the modern chaplaincy movement. Reverend Etter has served the Connecticut Department of Correction since 1993 and volunteered for nearly a decade prior to that. Among her many accomplishments that she was recognized for is her development of the Chrysalis program at the York Correctional Institution, which has yielded an extremely low recidivism rate among its participants.

February 20, 2008

To date, 22-energy savings projects have been initiated within the Connecticut Department of Correction through the utilization of more than $1.5-million in funding achieved through a cooperative agreement with New England's utility grid. The projects have included the installation of energy saving laundry machines, lighting, HVAC units and water conservation. Through the agreement with ISO New England, the agency, during periods of peak electricity usage, 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 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.

March 3, 2008

As part of the continuing enhancement of the Department's Re-Entry mission, a Technical Violator Unit has been established at the Robinson Correctional Institution. Offenders who fail to comply with community supervision are returned to incarceration within the Unit. The 60-day program provides intensive programming aimed at redirecting the offender to law-abiding behavior. An assessment on possible re-release to the community is made 30 days into the program. Initially some 50 male offenders are participating.

March 5, 2008

In recognition of the Connecticut Department of Correction's leadership role in the area of gang intelligence, the Vernon Connecticut Police Department has honored a member of the agency for his contributions in making that community a safer place to live. The town recognized the intelligence officer's collaboration and assistance that had been provided to the town police department in aiding the detection and apprehension of gang members in its community.

March 15, 2008

Through an innovative collaboration between the Department of Correction, the Department of Public Health and the Connecticut Women's Consortium training has been provided for the staff of the York Correctional Institution on trauma-informed offender supervision, and programming for female offenders on preventing intimate partner violence. This will be followed with the development of a gender-responsive, trauma-informed, and developmentally appropriate system of offender assessment, classification, supervision, programming, and pre-release planning.

April 18, 2008

With more than 130 members of its staff having been called up to active military duty in the wake of September 11, 2001, the Connecticut Department of Correction has developed a Military Peer Support Program. Developed through the agency's highly regarded Critical Incident Stress Response Program (CISRT), and with the guidance of a DOC military veteran focus group, the Program is intended to provide both deployment assistance and homecoming awareness as staff transition between their civilian and military roles. Peer support teams, available throughout the agency, will include DOC military personnel, trained CISRT members and clergy. The teams will act as a link for service members and their family with both the DOC and other state and federal agencies.

April 20, 2008

In association with the University of Connecticut, Correctional Managed Health Care, The Food Services Unit has created a new health conscientious menu for the offender population. As a result the fat and cholesterol content of inmate meals has been decreased while more protein and fiber have been added, including Connecticut grown fresh fruits and vegetables. The effort has also led to a more effective Therapeutic Diet to meet the special dietary needs of a segment of the prison population.

May 1, 2008

The Department of Correction's Gang Awareness presentation has been delivered to more than 100 community, state and federal audiences including military groups. The program provides information on the latest gang identifiers that may be displayed in a community as well as trends and activities of the region's most active street gangs.

May 15, 2008

The Department's LEaD, succession training program, conducted through the nationally accredited Maloney Center for Training and Staff Development has been certified by Charter Oak State College for college credit. In collaboration with the Connecticut Community College Chancellor's office, the curriculum of the program was extensively reviewed and fully certified. The credits available range from three to nine, depending upon the rank of the student.

June 3, 2008

For a second time, the Maloney Center for Training and Staff Development has achieved a perfect, 100 percent score from accreditation auditors of the American Correctional Association. The auditors spent two days at the training academy, concluding it had achieved the perfect score in both the mandatory and non-mandatory categories. The facility had been recognized with the same flawless degree of professionalism during its last accreditation audit in May of 2005. The Maloney Center for Training and Staff Development had also achieved the distinction of national accreditation in 1999 and 2002.

June 12, 2008

After an intensive three-day audit by the American Correctional Association, the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution scored an astounding 99.5 percent in the renewal of is accreditation. Auditors from Texas and Pennsylvania intensively reviewed 531 standards in arriving at the final score. In the close out session, the auditors praised staff for their professionalism and hospitality as well as for the level of cleanliness of the facility. Said one auditor, "I would like to work here, that's how impressed I am." The MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution houses more than 2,000 high and maximum security as well as high profile offenders. It is the largest correctional institution in New England.

June 18, 2008

In furtherance of the Connecticut Department of Correction's mission to prepare offenders for successful re-entry into law abiding society, the first state identification cards have been produced for inmates who are on the verge of release to the community. The project has been the result of intensive collaboration between the Connecticut Departments of Correction and Motor Vehicles. Ten of the first dozen offenders to take part in the program at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution received state photo identification cards similar to a driver's license. Two other offenders were able to renew their commercial driver's license, permitting them to return to work upon release.

June 23, 2008

The York Correctional Institution (CI) has been selected as Facility of the Year by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC). The prestigious national award is presented annually to only one of the more than 500 prisons, jails, and juvenile detention and confinement facilities that participate in NCCHC"s national accreditation program. The notification letter to York CI's warden stated that the accreditation surveyors and committee were impressed with how the facility's staff consistently demonstrated excellence in health service delivery and correctional health care professionalism. The variety of positive programs available to the offender population was highlighted.

July 17, 2008

As part of the agency's commitment to being a "Good Neighbor" to the communities that host the state's correctional facilities, three headstones from the Shaker religious sect were transferred to the Martha A. Parsons Historical Trust in Enfield. The headstones had long ago been utilized as part of a walkway at the department's conference center on Crescent Lake. The Shakers who once inhabited the site were known for not wasting anything.

August 28, 2008

The Connecticut Department of Correction has been awarded a $540,000 grant by the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Prisoner Reentry Initiative will be utilized to create an offender reintegration program in the city of Bridgeport with the goal of reducing recidivism and enhancing public safety. The grant requires the formation of an advisory group to assess the specific needs of the Bridgeport community. The Department will then contract with a faith based organization to provide post release services including education/vocational services, job development and placement, counseling mentoring and case management. A total of 200 offenders are to be served through the grant.

September 2, 2008

Indicative of the Connecticut Department of Correction's leading role in gang intelligence and management, the History Channel sought out the agency's expertise in producing a segment of its "Gangland" television series pertaining to the Los Solidos street gang. Staff from the Department's Security Division appeared in the segment and provided historical perspective as to the destructive effects of the gang both in the state's urban areas as well as its correctional institutions.

September 12, 2008

Two members of the Connecticut Department of Correction have been recognized by the United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, for their assistance in two major criminal cases. One of the cases resulted in the dismantling of a violent PCP distribution ring in New Haven, the second had a major impact in curtailing the illegal activities of the Carolina Boys and Latin Kings gangs in the city of Waterbury. The awards were presented at the U.S. Attorneys Annual Award ceremony which highlights the collaborative efforts of local, state and federal law enforcement over the previous year.

September 15, 2008

Significant improvements have been made to the agency's computer network that will improve the security of the system and allow staff to be more productive when away from the office. Staff can now access their e-mail outside of department facilities, directly from the Internet. Meanwhile, the latest anti-virus program has been applied to the system to create a more stable security environment.

September 15, 2008

As a cost savings and security enhancement a new Inmate Overview Sheet has been created to track crucial information about offenders that previously required the review of a number of different sources of information. The new sheet is being used for court trips, transfers, Parole, orientation, Risk and Need Score processing, Special Management, and several other uses, providing 'one-stop shopping' for most of the information.

September 26, 2008

Progressive changes in the conditions of confinement for offenders with significant mental health needs, have resulted in the closing out of a stipulated court agreement between the Connecticut Department of Correction and the State of Connecticut Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities (OPA). The expectations of the federal court agreement, which became know as OPA versus Choinski, were detailed in March 2004 and involved the Garner Correctional Institution and the Northern Correctional Institution. Specifically, the agreement required the review and revision of the conditions of confinement and treatment provided inmates at Garner CI, the agency's designated mental health facility as well as how offenders with mental health needs would be confined at the maximum security Northern CI, should their behavior warrant placement there. The parties allowed the agreement to expire after outside consultants audited the enhancements to the agency's mental health policies.

September 30, 2008

All of the agency's 18 correctional facilities have now been equipped with video conferencing capabilities as a means of reducing the cost of conducting offender hearings with outside agencies and increasing public safety with inmates not having to leave the facility. There has been a steady increase in the usage of teleconferencing during hearings of the Board of Pardons and Parole, Probation, the Judicial Branch, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Social Security, and the Federal Courts. In October, 2008 there were 102 hearings with 19 being held for Parole. In November the numbers were 185 hearings with 109 for Parole. In December the numbers increased again to 213 hearings with 134 Parole hearings being held.

October 17, 2008

As part of an agency wide upgrade of radio technology to enhance staff safety, the first of a new generation of handheld, two- way radios was distributed at the Enfield Correctional Institution. The new radio units will be made available at the Osborn Correctional Institution on December 31st and at the Northern Correctional Institution during the first week of January. This process will continue for all of the northern District 1 facilities with current funding sufficient to also complete coverage of the New Haven and Bridgeport Correctional Centers.

November 1, 2008

A new electronic interface with Western Union will allow those on an offender's visitor list to electronically deposit funds into the inmate's commissary account. This process is much faster that the usage of paper money orders and will cut down on the process of manually reviewing and entering deposits. Based on this initial roll out, the program is schedule to be expanded to an additional contractor.

November 1, 2008

As a means of enhancing risk management and triaging offender's to appropriate and necessary programming, the Connecticut Department of Correction has initiated a new Treatment and Program Assessment Instrument (TPAI). Initially based on an approach utilized by the Pennsylvania DOC, the instrument measures an offender's level of risk of recidivation by measuring parameters such as violent convictions, age of first adult conviction and the number of prior adult convictions. The instrument has been fully validated on the Connecticut inmate population.

November 15, 2008

The Corrections Modernization Team, as part of the Offender Management Replacement Project has created a new spreadsheet process to track pardons cases that previously had been done completely by hand. The second phase will be to create a new database to track and report on these cases.

November 15, 2008

Through the department's ongoing energy conservation effort, upgrades were started at the Corrigan-Radgowski, New Haven and Bridgeport Correctional Centers. The cost for these upgrades is approximately $800,000.00 and was funded through compensation the agency receives from local utilities through an agreement to utilize generator power during times of peak electrical usage. The conservation measures will result in an annual cost savings to DOC that is estimated to be more than $120,000.00.

November 18, 2008

Gang intelligence experts from the Department of Correction Security Division, collaborated with the FBI and ATF in producing a law enforcement training program regarding the Mara Salvatrucha gang, which is also known as MS 13. Attended by police agencies from across the state, the presentation provided information on the history and identification of MS 13, which is widely considered to be one of the most violent street gangs in the world.