Featured Article

Budget Plan Calls for Closing Two Prisons
Article Audio

1:25 minutes (0.68 MB)
Download this Article
Share this Content

The state Senate has approved a budget plan that includes a proposal to close two state prisons.

Senate President Don Williams says its feasible due to the number of corrections' employees that have taken early retirement.

"At the same time our prison population is down by over a thousand so there's certainly the potential for consolidating prison populations and being able to close one and perhaps two prisons."

But identifying which prisons could close is up to the Department of Corrections according to Judiciary Cmte Chair, Rep Mike Lawlor.

"So it might be a 60-year old building which houses 60 inmates in an old prison facility. It might be a 200 inmate wing of an existing prison. Who knows? You don't want politicians doing that...you want  professionals figuring out where, what resources they need, what resources they don't need."

"I don't think closing down prisons is feasible from a public safety standpoint."

That's Larry Dorman, spokesman of Council 4 AFSCME,  which represents dept of corrections' employees.

"The prisoner count may be down now but it doesn't take a whole lot for it to get back up. and currently in many facilities, correctional officers and other front line employees are dealing with overcrowded conditions. We had a violent attack on a correctional officer last week at Northern Correctional institution."

Republican Senator, John Kissel, has six correctional facilities in his district. He calls the Democrats' proposal "preposterous" and says it will impact public safety.

Senate Democrats say in budget negotiations earlier this month, Governor Rell had supported closing one prison.