Montville deserves safety assurances

It was distressing to learn that the state will locate a 24-bed residential sex-offender treatment facility in Montville despite strong community opposition. As stated in a prior editorial, it is not the concept that is the problem. Programs that decrease the number of repeat offenders are good for society and for state spending. The problem is that Montville already hosts a prison, so why burden it with yet another correctional system responsibility?

Unfortunately for the town, the very fact that it is home to the Corrigan-Radowski Correctional Center made it a ready target for the sex-offender facility. The lone bidder for operating the program was The Connection, which already operates a halfway house at the entrance to the prison. It plans to convert the building - Cochegan House - into the sex-offender residence.

The Department of Correction announced Monday it had signed a contract with The Connection to open the facility in Montville early next year.

The state did not consider communities without a prison. It did review locating the sex-offender center at other state correctional institutions: Brooklyn, Somers, Enfield, Newtown and Bridgeport, according to a spokesman.

The department has not explained why it makes more sense to plunk the facility down along busy Route 32 in Montville rather than the more remote locations in Somers and Brooklyn. Recent legislation, requiring the state to consider proximity to schools, day care centers and businesses, did not dissuade corrections from selecting Montville.

Anger among Montville officials and residents is understandable, but trying to continue the fight could prove counterproductive. Short of evidence of misconduct during the selection process, it would be inappropriate and set a bad precedent for the governor to intervene and reverse the decision, as some suggest.

Montville officials should, however, demand detailed information on how the facility will operate and what safeguards will be in place. In addition to helping sex offenders transition back into their communities and the work force, the center will house offenders in the probation program under court orders to receive treatment.

How will The Connection monitor clients? What plans are in place to assure offenders return to their hometowns upon release and not end up in the local communities? What will be the protocol to notify local authorities if a resident goes missing?

A meeting should be held to get all the public's questions answered. Transparency is paramount. If the facility is going to operate in Montville, the operator must do it right.

The editorial board is composed of the publisher and four journalists of varied editing and reporting backgrounds. The board's discussions and information gained from its meetings with political, civic, and business leaders drive the institutional voice of The Day, as expressed in its editorials. The editorial department operates separately from the newsroom.


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