State officials outlined plans to close three prisons during the coming two-year budget period Wednesday.
Prior to the release of Gov. Ned Lamont’s budget Wednesday, acting Correction Department Commissioner Angel Quiros told lawmakers his agency would likely close two correctional facilities. On Monday, Lamont announced that one of them would be the state’s only “supermax” prison, Northern Correctional in Somers.
During a budget briefing, Office of Policy and Management Secretary Melissa McCaw said the two-year budget counted on the closure of three prisons.
The state expects the closures to help focus staff and services on fewer facilities. McCaw said the savings from the agency amounted to $20 million in the first year and nearly $47 million in the second.
The budget director pointed to a historic drop in the number of people incarcerated in Connecticut. As of last month, there were 9,094 inmates in DOC custody. That’s down from more than 17,700 a decade ago.
The drop presents an “opportunity to look at how we’re providing services and consolidate where appropriate,” she said.
Collin Provost, president of correction workers union, AFSCME Local 391, has opposed the closure of any prisons. On Wednesday, he said he understood the state’s budgetary constraints but did not believe savings should be achieved at the expense of public safety. He questioned whether the state’s offender population would remain low enough to support additional closures.
“It requires them to have these crazy COVID numbers maintained. The inmate population that we have right now is pretty darn low,” Provost said. “I understand the projections and prison reform. However, I just don’t see how they can do it.”