Several of the state’s 14 prison facilities will likely close in the coming years, Correction Department Commissioner Angel Quiros said Monday during an appearance on WNPR’s Where We Live.
“Let me be clear: there will be facility closures in the upcoming budget years 21-22 and 22-23,” he said during the radio interview.
Quiros, the designated commissioner of the state’s prison system, declined to say which of the facilities were slated to close. That news will be broken to the affected facility’s staff before it is released to the media, he said. However, Quiros did rule some facilities out.
“There is four facilities which I cannot close. I cannot close York Correctional Institution, that’s the only female prison, and I cannot close the three country jails: Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport because that’s for the unsentenced population. Every other facility is on the book for me to review,” he said.
Connecticut’s incarcerated population was at 9,457 on Oct. 1. That’s less than half of what it was at its peak in 2008. Prison closures have long been expected within the department. Many expect the next closure to be Northern Correctional Institution, the state’s maximum security facility.
Northern Correctional Institution in Somers housed death row inmates and recently housed COVID-19 positive inmates in a medical unit. Connecticut’s General Assembly prospectively abolished the death penalty in 2012 and in 2016 the courts found keeping it for the 11 inmates left on death row was unconstitutional.
Asked by host Lucy Nalpathanchil whether Northern would be among the closures, Quiros, who served as the facility’s warden from 2009 to 2011, declined to say. He said the “supermax” prison was a useful tool when it opened in 1994 amidst inmate riots and assaults on department staff members.
“Northern has served a critical role for us to maintaining safety and security at all of our 14 correctional facilities. However as commissioner, now I have to make that decision when I’m reviewing every facility, to see which facilities will be closed,” he said.
Collin Provost, president of AFSCME Local 391, said the state prison workers unions have met with Quiros and opposed closing any facilities.
“Let’s focus on the safety and security of the officers,” Provost said Monday. “Especially while we’re dealing with COVID, having to figure out PPE and proper distancing between inmates, proper distancing between staff. It kind of makes sense to have a little bit more elbow room right now.”