Governor Rell’s proposal to build a detention facility for girls in Bridgeport is facing strong opposition by neighbors, local leaders and lawmakers. WNPR’s Diane Orson reports.
Its been six years since the state closed Long Lane School in Middletown. Boys were transferred to the CT Juvenile Training School. Girls were dispersed to a variety of residential programs around the state. Now, Governor Rell wants to build a new facility for girls on state-owned land in Bridgeport. Brian Mattiello of the Department of Children and Families says officials considered several locations.
"And Bridgeport stood out for a number of reasons. One it’s at a crossroads of Route 8 and Route 15. Property was on the bus line making it accessible to families. The site also didn’t require a lot of preparatory work."
But State Representative Chris Caruso says residents will not tolerate a juvenile jail going up in a beautiful neighborhood in Bridgeport.
"There is no need to build a brand new facility that is going to cost over $16 million when the state has existing facilities that could be retro-fitted to accommodate the juveniles that are going to be put in them."
DCF officials insist that the facility is not a jail, but a treatment center for girls who have been abused and neglected. They say the girls are not dangerous to anyone but themselves. But opponents argue that any building with 16 locked cells is a jail.. and Bridgeport already has a juvenile and adult jail.
The State Bond Commission meets on January 8th to allocate money for the project.
For WNPR, I’m Diane Orson.