Montville ready to fight facility

Montville - It may never be located here, but officials have made their displeasure known about any attempt to locate a facility for sexual offenders within the town.

At its meeting Monday night, the Town Council requested that Mayor Joseph Jaskiewicz send a letter to the governor stating councilors' opposition to any attempt to open such a facility.

Previously, one had been considered for the Cochegan House, a halfway home with a work release component on the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center grounds.

"At every stage of this proposal I have opposed it," Jaskiewicz said on Tuesday.

Town Council Vice Chairwoman Ellen Hillman said while she understands the need for such facilities, she is concerned about a location in Montville for so many offenders.

"I'm concerned for the community's safety and for their safety," Hillman said Tuesday, adding that the facility could become a target. She suggested a program where the offenders can return to their own community and then be taken to an outpatient facility for any support services.

In 2008, special legislation was passed enabling the Department of Correction and the court support services division of the Judicial Branch to each open a 12-bed facility with a budget of $1 million annually. The departments decided to pool their resources to create a 24-bed facility for sexual offenders on the verge of finishing their sentences. The facility would help re-acclimate the prisoners to the community and assist with finding a job and treatment.

In August 2008, The Connection Inc., which runs the Cochegan House, a 16-bed facility that works with men being released from prison, was invited to negotiate a contract for the facility.

The contract was never solidified, according to DOC Director of External Affairs Brian Garnett.

In February 2009 and then again in October 2009, the judicial department said it did not have the funding for the project, Garnet said. Jaskiewicz said it was during this time that he became aware of the proposal. The mayor said once the judicial department withdrew from the project and the funding source was reduced he didn't hear of the proposal again, until recently.

Last week, state elected officials said the project fell victim to the state's budget crisis.

At that time, an official from the Judicial Branch said in a statement that in addition to funding issues the agency has been unable to contract for the facility because the DOC has not entered into a contract. Quinn said since the facility was going to be on DOC property, the DOC became the lead agency for the project.

Garnet said with the judicial department's withdrawal, the mission of the project changed.

The DOC is now proposing to build, or create, somewhere in the state, a 12-bed facility with a $1 million budget for up to six years, Garnet said. The 2008 request had specified that it be in a metropolitan area. Garnet said a location has not been determined. A new 32-page request for proposal has been posted on the Correction Department's Web site.

Tuesday afternoon, an official with The Connection said the group, a nonprofit human services and community development agency, would need to review the new RFP before saying whether it will submit a new proposal for the facility.

"We will look at the proposal and see if it's a feasible program for us and determine whether it is a good fit," Heide Erb, director of communications for The Connection, said.

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