Accomplishments in 2013

January 22, 2013

Continuing with the agency’s mission to find innovative ways to make information easily available to the public, the Management Information Systems staff completed a project that would provide additional information to those navigating through the public website. This change to the Department’s public website allows the Inmate Information Search to link to the Judicial Branch’s docket webpage. This now allows an individual to search for an offender currently supervised by the Department, and then navigate to the Judicial website to see further information on the offender.

February 20, 2013

As part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to connect with other state agencies in response to emergencies in the community, the Department of Correction continues to play a vital role during severe weather conditions/significant snow events. Fiscal staff worked in collaboration with the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Project Director for processing and submission of proper documentation for FEMA qualified reimbursable labor, material and equipment related expenses totaling $652,480. Eligible expenses includes the cost of utilizing backup generators during power outages, debris removal, assisting the State Police with security, manning emergency operation centers, assisting in the distribution of food, water and supplied, escorting FEMA staff for damage assessment and other storm related cost.

March 4, 2013

The Seven Challenges Program was implemented at Manson Youth Institution and York Correctional Institution for boys and girls who are incarcerated and who experience problems with drugs or alcohol. Although it falls under the auspices of drug and alcohol treatment in the Department of Correction, Seven Challenges is a decision making model designed to help young boys and girls make life decisions including drug and alcohol use and life choices. The Seven Challenges® Program is designed specifically for adolescents with drug problems, to motivate a decision and commitment to change - and to support success in implementing the desired changes. The Program simultaneously helps young people address their drug problems as well as their co-occurring life skill deficits, situational problems, and psychological problems. The challenges provide a framework for helping youth think through their own decisions about their lives and their use of alcohol and other drugs. Counselors using The Seven Challenges Program teach youth to identify and work on the issues most relevant to them. In sessions, as youth discuss the issues that matter most, counselors seamlessly integrate the Challenges as part of the conversation. The Seven Challenges is listed as an evidence-based program in the SAMHSA National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices.

March 8, 2013

Triggered by an alarming and disturbing increase in violent crime, primarily shootings and homicides occurring in New Haven last year, the US Attorney for the District of Connecticut assembled a team who would be responsible for implementing a new initiative referred to as Project Longevity. Project Longevity is premised on a strategy designed to directly communicate the consequences of engaging in violence to at-risk gang/group members. Gang members are told that following a violent incident, law enforcement will use any and all legal resources available to them, in order to punish those who commit violent acts as well as their associates. Along with this message, service and community partners offer help to those willing to leave the criminal lifestyle. Members of the Department of Correction were honored for their commitment to Project Longevity as recipients of the Violent Crimes and Narcotics Unit Award at the US Attorney’s Office Awards Ceremony.

April 3, 2013

Following a comprehensive justification, the Department of Correction was awarded a SCAPP education grant resulting in significant upgrades to the media center and auditorium presentation capabilities at the Maloney Center for Training and Staff Development. This completed project removed the necessity to contract with external sources, while providing our training academy the ability to record events, display training and create training videos with full editing options.

May 18, 2013

The Department’s Volunteer, Interns and Professional Partners (VIP) / Recreation Unit organized a VIP Conference & Forum for Departmental Volunteers, Interns and Professional Partners (VIPs) at the Maloney Center for Training & Staff Development in Cheshire. The theme for this Conference was, “Helping Inmates & Parolees to Make a Fresh Start: Celebrating Citizen Involvement”. This Conference attracted two-hundred-twenty-five VIPs who heard from a panel of ten ex-inmate Presenters affiliated with Family Reentry, Inc. and its ‘Fresh Start Program’. Each Presenter spoke about his/her previous incarceration experience, the crimes they committed and how they were able to overcome personal issues to become employable, crime-free ex-inmates. Each Presenter touched on some of the ways Departmental Volunteers, Interns or Professional Partners (VIPs) motivated or mentored them for successful re-integration. Panelists praised VIPs often for not giving up on them. Citing repeated examples of poor choices and lack of opportunities contributing to their incarceration, each Presenter countered with respect and gratitude for elective/voluntary activities for inmates, including AA/NA, Alternatives to Violence (AVP), Thresholds, People Empowering People and Religious Fellowship that helped to change the direction of each of their lives. It became evident that Departmental VIPs nurtured each to invest in the transformative process for self-development. During closing remarks, Panelists expressed gratitude for the work that Programs & Services staff and VIPs perform collaboratively, resulting in meaningful interventions while incarcerated. Participants were clearly refreshed to hear what they do help to reduce recidivism.

May 21, 2013

An Adolescent Specific Policies Working Group was established at the Manson Youth Institution. Group members consist of staff from the Department of Correction, Office of the Child Advocate, Correctional Managed Health Care, and the Department of Children and Families. This collaborative committee is charged with reviewing current agency Administrative Directives and Policies pertaining to youth in custody to determine their consistency with both knowledge and best practices specific to the population, as well as to offer recommendations for change.

May 28, 2013

The Maloney Center for Training and Staff Development, in coordination with the Yale University, initiated a supervisory professional development workshop entitled “Strengthening Supervisory Skills.” This initiative was implemented to promote supervisory workforce excellence, as outlined in the agency’s strategic plan. The target audience at its inception was Captains, Counselor Supervisors and Lieutenants. A total of 372 supervisors attended training with positive feedback.

June 2013

As a result of new legislation, the Department of Correction partnered with the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to develop a highly skilled nursing home for the long-term care for DOC offenders and DMHAS patients. In June 2013, the first DOC inmate was placed in the nursing home, named 60 West, which is located in Rocky Hill, CT. The Parole & Community Services Division’s Mental Health Unit is tasked with supervision of all DOC patients and works closely with the Department’s Director of Medical Services, Dr. Maurer, and the Chief of Psychiatry, Dr. Burns, along with nursing home staff. Offenders are assessed medically and behaviorally and then presented to a board of psychiatrists to determine any risk factors. The goal of the assessment is to confirm that a person is so medically compromised he/she no longer poses a risk to public safety. The nursing home is the first of this type in the country.

June 17, 2013

The PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act) Unit was established to monitor and support the Federal Standards outlined within the standards of Public Act 108-79, The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003. This Unit is responsible for conducting internal investigations following the report of an alleged or actual sexual assault. The Connecticut State Police (CSP) shall serve as the primary investigation authority in all PREA cases. The PREA Unit shall conduct independent investigations in accordance with agency Administrative Directives and Department of Justice National Standards to prevent, detect and respond to prison rape. The PREA Unit shall also provide support to all Connecticut Correctional facilities through training on staff awareness, evidence protocol, and sexual assault prevention and intervention.

July 5, 2013

The agency’s efforts to positively impact the delivery of services to the youth population resulted in the creation of the Youth Development Unit (TDU). This expansion project was designed to provide special education services and programming for youth offenders on a restrictive status placement. The environment is more educationally sound providing quality sequential learning and allowing students to focus on their academics as well as life skills. This new environment has allowed educators to provide academic services in a traditional classroom environment. This setting allows students (inmates) the ability to collaborate and work in teams, as well as, build upon prior knowledge from the previous day’s learning. More concrete, sequential teaching is being provided allowing students to build upon their knowledge and continue with learning that requires higher-level thinking. The new YDU has allowed for more collaboration between the custody and education staff.

July 2013

As part of an extensive restructuring plan of the agency, high bond pre-trial inmates were moved to the Northern Correctional Institution (NCI). This decision resulted in a more efficient operation based on better utilization of the existing infrastructure and available bed space. This was accomplished while sustaining all inmate programming and providing opportunities for staff development. Through the years, Northern Correctional Institution has altered its mission and inmate populations in order to meet the changing needs of the agency. After much planning, major changes were made to the structure of the Administrative Segregation (AS) Program which included removing Phases 2 and 3 of the program to another facility. This gave inmates the opportunity for exposure to a new environment and to new staff which assisted with avoiding various pitfalls of dealing with the same environment and staff during attempts to progress through the phases. All of these efforts and initiatives resulted in a decrease in the inmate population and downsizing of the facility which led to available bed space at Northern CI for a Level-4 General Population Unit affording the new High Bond Inmate population all of the privileges and amenities afforded to other inmates of the same classification. With that, the staff and administration formulated a way to provide traditional educational services in a more traditional classroom setting. Now educational services and amenities provided at Northern CI closely resemble those provided in a regular level-4 general population facility. Northern C.I continues to modify its mission to better serve the agency and the services it provides to various inmate populations.

July 31, 2013

Following a complete build-out and renovation to the existing three-story North Wing building at the Bridgeport Correctional Center, Commissioner Dzurenda and Warden Timothy Farrell welcomed members of the community to the rededication ceremony. This building was constructed in 1956 and has been totally renovated to include all new utilities, windows, roof, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, mechanical, electrical and plumbing equipment. This project also incorporated the newest technologies used in security electronic systems and energy conservation.

September 1, 2013

The Department of Correction’s Domestic Violence Program was rewritten in 2013 and improved to include expanded topics on effects on children, what is a healthy relationship, warning cues and behavior management and motivation to change. An outside vendor provided Clinical Supervision and training regularly to the Department of Correction’s forty-two trained Domestic Violence Counselors. The program is, at minimum, a basic education program designed to introduce the offenders to the definition of domestic violence and introduce the concept of responsibility for actions.

October 1, 2013

The Department of Correction’s Health Services Unit, in conjunction with the APT Foundation, implemented a Methadone Treatment Program at the New Haven Correctional Center. This successful program supports the agency’s position on continuity of care for our offender population. This program ensures that offenders, who were receiving methadone treatment prior to incarceration, continue to receive treatment and addiction services.

November 26, 2013

The Department of Correction’s Victim Services Unit successfully launched the implementation of the Connecticut Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification (CT SAVIN), with the goal of adding another layer to our registered victim’s notification through this system. CT SAVIN is a confidential service that provides crime victims and their family members, victim advocates, and members of the community a free and confidential notification when there is a change is status of a particular offender. This system will allow the public to receive phone and/or email notifications when an offender is being considered for community release or when an offender is going to be discharged at the completion of their sentence.

November 26, 2013

Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced the appointment of James E. Dzurenda of Stratford to Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Correction. Commissioner Dzurenda, who most recently served as the agency’s Deputy Commissioner of Operations, has almost three decades of experience at the DOC and has been serving in the role of Interim Commissioner since the retirement of Commissioner Leo Arnone on April 1, 2013. Governor Malloy complimented Commissioner Dzurenda’s invaluable experience, knowledge and dedication to the Department of Correction.

December 1, 2013

The Program and Treatment Unit implemented Dr. Stephanie Covington’s Helping Women Recover Substance Abuse Program at York CI for female offenders. Dr. Covington is a clinician, author, organizational consultant, and lecturer and is recognized for her pioneering work in the area of women's issues; Dr. Covington specializes in the development and implementation of gender-responsive and trauma-informed services in both the public and private sectors. The version purchased by the DOC is specific to offenders in the criminal justice system. The Helping Women Recover program offers counselors, mental health professionals, and program administrators the tools they need to implement a gender-responsive, trauma-informed treatment program in group therapy settings or with individual clients. Helping Women Recover is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of women who are addicted to drugs or alcohol or who have co-occurring disorders. The program is included in SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence Based Programs and Practices and has been implemented in more than 1100 criminal justice programs with more than 29,000 women participating in the program.