Seeking to avoid tragedy, the legislature allocated $2 million, two years ago to build a sex-offender treatment facility that would house convicts recently released from prison.
The money was allocated by the legislature, but to date no facility has been built.
That means three-time convicted rapist, Ransome Moody, had no where to go when he was released. Moody ended up at a homeless shelter in New Haven. The same is true of Brian Keith Wright, who was released on Dec. 17. Wright ended up at a homeless shelter in Hartford.
A Correction Officer was so worried about Wright, who served 25 years for first degree sexual assault, that he wrote state officials to warn them of his release. Wright will receive no parole or probation as part of his release because he was sentenced before the state required mandatory probation for sex offenders.
“God forbid there’s tragedy and somebody gets killed because some sex offender who had just been released from prison was walking unsupervised in the community,” state Rep. Michael Lawlor, co-chairman of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, said Thursday at a press conference.
After apologizing for using a press conference to get his message across to Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, Lawlor, an East Haven Democrat, said all the governor has to do to get the 24-bed sex-offender treatment facility up and running is pick up the phone call the Corrections Department.
The $2 million authorized for the joint project between the Corrections Department and the Judicial Branch was allocated two years ago and a contract was awarded to Connections Inc. last January. The facility would be located on existing Corrections Department property in Uncasville, adjacent to Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center.
But in a statement released late Thursday evening, Rell said the contract has lapsed and the project has to go back out to bid.
“The state has every intention to move forward with this much-needed facility,“ Rell said. “It is disappointing that we lost valuable time when the Judicial Branch chose to withdraw from the partnership nearly 10 months after a contractor was selected. Because of that withdrawal, it is imperative that we must issue another Request for Proposals.“
The Department of Correction is going forward with another RFP for its half of the project, Rell said.
Barbara Quinn, the chief court administrator, disputed the timeline of events presented by Rell.
“DOC agreed to act as the lead for this project and issued the RFP in August 2008. It was understood that siting this type of facility would be extremely difficult,“ Quinn said.
“Subsequently, the DOC and Judicial accepted a proposal that sited the facility on DOC property. Because the designated site was on DOC property, the Judicial Branch could not move forward with the project without DOC. To date, DOC has not entered into a contract to establish this facility,“ Quinn added.
She said when the DOC enters a contract, the Judicial Branch will use the money it has left to fund six sex offender beds.
Over the past two years the governor, according to Quinn’s statement, has required the branch to not spend the money it allocated for the sex-offender treatment facility. Rell disagreed.
“The Judicial Branch continues to have the discretion – and the funds – to build and operate its half of the 24-bed facility on state property as originally planned. I am hopeful this is something the Judicial Branch is still willing to consider,“ Rell said in her written statement. “However, we are moving ahead – with or without the Judicial Branch.”
“If the governor calls the Department of Correction Commissioner today this project will move forward with the participation of the Judicial Branch,” Lawlor said.
He said he understands, Rell continues to blame the Judicial Branch, but it’s the Corrections Department that’s the lead agency for the project. As governor Rell is in charge of the Corrections Department.
Lawlor said he wasn’t trying to blame anyone or do any finger-pointing.
“It’s not a question of whose fault this is, it’s a question of let’s get this done,“ Lawlor said.