The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

August 14, 2013

Federal prison conversion in Connecticut plan put on hold

DANBURY, Conn. — Federal officials have temporarily suspended a plan to turn the Danbury women's prison into a facility for men so they can answer questions raised by 11 U.S. senators from the Northeast, Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy said today.

The federal Bureau of Prisons had planned to transfer about 1,000 inmates from Danbury to a prison in Aliceville, Ala., citing a need for more minimum-security beds for male prisoners. The transfers were slated to begin this month.

But Murphy and 10 other senators said the transfers would leave the Northeast with no federal prison beds for women and would disrupt the lives of the female inmates, their children and other family members.

They asked the bureau's director, Charles E. Samuels Jr., to put the plan on hold. They requested details of the transfers including the cost, the hometowns of the inmates and the programs that will be offered to the women in Alabama.

"I'm glad that the Bureau of Prisons has agreed to halt these transfers until they can provide some answers to some very serious questions," Murphy, a Democrat, said in a statement.

Bureau of Prisons spokesman Ed Ross said today that he couldn't confirm that the transfer plan was temporarily suspended.

"We have not transferred any inmates from Danbury to Aliceville, and we are not transferring inmates from Danbury to Aliceville at this time," Ross said.

Under the bureau's plan, the transfers were scheduled to be completed by December. About 210 female inmates would remain in Danbury at a camp near the prison.

Danbury is the only federal prison in Connecticut. It was built in 1940 and converted from a men's prison to a women's facility in 1994.

Besides Murphy, other senators who signed the letter to Samuels include: Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal, New York Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, Massachusetts Democrats Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy and independent Bernie Sanders, New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey and Maine independent Angus King.

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