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Proposed sex-offender treatment facility meets resistance in Montville

By Amy Renczkowski and Megan Bard

Publication: The Day

Published April 14. 2010 4:00AM   Updated April 14. 2010 9:28AM
Officials have safety concerns regarding location at Corrigan

Montville Despite opposition from the community, the nonprofit Connection Inc. has been selected to create a sex-offender treatment facility for inmates about to be released and wants to locate it at the entrance of the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center.

The Connection Inc., a human services and community development agency, was the sole bidder for the project to create 12, pre-release, sex-offender treatment beds. A review committee within the state Department of Correction made a recommendation to the acting commissioner this week to accept the proposal.

The plan calls for the beds to be sited at the Cochegan House, a halfway home already operated by The Connection Inc. on the grounds of the prison. The facility would house sexual offenders who are nearing the end of their sentences. Its goal is to help reacclimate inmates to the community and assist them in finding jobs and treatment.

The proposal for a sex-offender treatment facility came in response to legislation passed in 2008 addressing the need for better treatment for sex offenders before they are released into the community. It is anticipated that the creation of the 12 sex-offender beds will cost about $1 million annually. The proposal calls for the contract to start July 1.

Town officials in Montville vowed Tuesday to continue to fight the proposal, saying they wanted answers to questions such as whether another facility would be needed, what type of inmates would be housed there and where they would go after completing the program.

"I'm not happy with it," Mayor Joseph Jaskiewicz said. "I don't want it in this town. I cannot emphasize this enough. I'm not going to support it."

DOC Director of External Affairs Brian Garnett said those details, such as the parameters of the program and the supervision of inmates, will be worked out in the contract. Negotiations have only recently begun.

Town Council Chairwoman Donna Jacobson called the proposal "one of the most significant moves of idiocracy I've ever seen."

"This isn't a situation of 'not in my back yard.' It would be in our front yard, and in the middle of it," she said.

Town officials are also concerned that the facility may hinder economic development on Route 32, which has been highlighted as the town's "commercial corridor."

The mayor and Jacobson said it would be close to shopping plazas, a child-care facility and a residential neighborhood. About a mile away is St. Bernard School, a Catholic high school, and a bit farther away is an elementary school, Jaskiewicz said.

Jaskiewicz said he has been in touch with the five state representatives and senators that represent Montville asking for their help. Garnett said local legislators are meeting with the commissioner today in Hartford to discuss the proposal. The meeting is not open to the public.

Town Councilor Gary Murphy, who works for the DOC, agreed that the location is not suitable for the facility and said Montville has done its fair share of supporting the state DOC, citing the Cochegan House and the three prison buildings on the Corrigan-Radgowski property.

Murphy said he has already heard from residents who are against the proposal. "Right now, on the surface, I oppose this plan. But we need more information," he said.

In response to the community's concerns, the DOC asked The Connection Inc. to also consider all other locations that may be available statewide.

The selection of a preferred bidder only indicates that the DOC can now begin negotiating a contract with Connection Inc. It has directed that the negotiations will include a strong emphasis on security for the facility in keeping with the agency's mission of public safety, Garnett said.

Originally, the DOC and the court support services division of the Judicial Branch were going to pool their resources to create a 24-bed facility, but funding from the judicial department fell through in January.

a.renczkowski@theday.com

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