A couple of local lawmakers joined Connecticut's two U.S. Senators last week when they tried to view the COVID-19 situation at Danbury Federal Correctional Institution. State Senator Julie Kushner and Representative Patrick Callahan's districts include the prison. The Bureau of Prisons said for health and safety reasons, portions of the tour were adjusted by the Warden to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 following an increase in COVID-19 cases.
The delegation says they were looking into complaints of an outbreak and staffing challenges among other issues. The Danbury prison complex houses 1,078 inmates, with about 40% of the inmates in isolation or quarantine because of coronavirus.
Corrections officers say a staffing shortage is requiring many correctional officers to work double shifts. While the bureau’s goal is one officer per prison unit, the Danbury staff to unit ratio is 1 to 3. Some 13 officers are out of work because of COVID-19. Union officials say officers are exhausted, morale is low and conditions are dangerous.
Kushner says while everyone thought COVID would only be an issue for two weeks or two months, it's now been two years and if the BOP is not planning for a future with COVID, they're making a big mistake. She noted that while there is currently an emergency sitution, they also need to have long term planning.