Vt. senators join objections to transfers from Conn. prison
The Associated Press | August 06,2013
DANBURY, Conn. — Plans to turn the women’s prison in Danbury into a facility for men will keep inmates from their loved ones and should be reconsidered, 11 U.S. senators from Northeastern states have told the federal Bureau of Prisons.
Vermont Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernard Sanders joined in sending a letter Friday asking the bureau’s director, Charles E. Samuels Jr., to suspend the plan, which would transfer about 1,000 inmates from Danbury to a facility in Aliceville, Ala. The move would mean there would be no federal prison beds for women in the Northeast, they wrote.
“This transfer would dramatically disrupt the lives of these female inmates, many of whom are from the Northeast, and place them out of reach of their families and loved ones,” the senators wrote.
A prisons bureau spokesman defended the move as necessary.
“We have a need for low-security male bed space right now,” said spokesman Chris Burke.
Burke said he did not know why Danbury was chosen over any other facility.
The senators noted the facility is close to population centers in the Northeast and transportation hubs, which cannot be said of the Alabama prison.
“Given BOP’s commitment to maintaining family contact, the goal should be to have as many inmates as close as possible to their home,” they wrote.
The senators asked Samuels to provide them specific information, such as the hometowns of Danbury inmates, the cost of the transfers and the programs that will be offered to the women in Alabama. The bureau will respond to the senators, Burke said.
The transfers were slated to begin this month and 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.
The letter was also signed by Connecticut’s Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen, Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey and Maine’s Angus King.
All the signers are Democrats except Sanders and King, who are independents.