A new warden has taken charge at Garner Correctional Institution, the state’s high-security prison for men at 50 Nunnawauk Road.
Henry Falcone, who served as a deputy warden for operations at Garner under former warden Scott Semple, has been named the prison’s new warden.
Mr Semple was Garner’s warden from mid-2009 until November 26. Mr Semple has been promoted to the post of deputy commissioner for operations for the state Department of Correction (DOC).
Mr Semple attended the December 3 session of the Public Safety Committee for Garner Correctional Institution at which he introduced Mr Falcone to committee members. The panel meets quarterly to discuss public safety issues posed by the presence of the 245,000-square-foot facility which opened in November 1992.
Mr Semple told panel members that Warden Falcone “came up through the ranks” at the DOC, having worked for the agency for more than 22 years.
Mr Semple noted that James Dzurenda, who served as Garner’s warden from 2005 to 2009, has been named as the DOC’s new commissioner by Governor Dannel Malloy. Mr Dzurenda has served as interim commissioner since last April. His appointment as permanent commissioner will be subject to confirmation by the state legislature in 2014.
In another matter, Mr Semple told committee members that as of December 3, there were no “overflow” inmates being housed in Garner’s large gymnasium. Overflow inmates had been housed in the gym for many months to alleviate overcrowding at the jails in the DOC’s prison system.
On December 3, there were 511 inmates in Garner, including 305 mental health prisoners, 184 general population inmates, and 22 youth prisoners, Mr Semple said. Garner specializes in the incarceration and treatment of mental health inmates.
Most inmates housed at Garner have been sentenced on convictions and are serving prison terms, while some inmates are being held on bail and are awaiting the disposition of their criminal cases. In effect, the facility serves as both a prison for long-term incarceration and as a jail for shorter-term inmate housing.
In another matter, Mr Semple told committee members that a new 5,000-gallon above-ground diesel fuel storage tank is being installed at Garner for use by the prison’s electrical generator system in the event of power outages,
In past outages, the prison has had difficulties with its generator due to the age of its fuel storage system, he said.
When full, the tank would provide sufficient fuel to generate electricity for the prison for three and one-half days, he said.
In other business, Mr Semple told committee members that the prison has been relatively calm recently, except for an inmate assault against a correction officer who received neck and back injuries in a violent incident in early November.
Accused inmate Robert Barfield, 43, is now being held at Northern Correctional Institution, which is a maximum-security prison in Somers. State police arrested Barfield on November 3 on a charge of second-degree assault, which is a felony. Barfield has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to return to Danbury Superior Court on January 6.
Mr Semple said the unidentified correction officer’s condition is improving following the attack.
In another matter, Mr Semple told committee members that the prison’s “youth development program” now has 22 inmates between ages 18 and 21 participating.
“It’s worked out quite nicely,” Mr Semple said of the youth program.
That program seeks to have younger inmates renounce their prison gang affiliations, study to obtain general equivalency (GED) diplomas, and more broadly, not return to prison after they are released from custody.
Youth program participants are held in “close custody” in a specialized housing unit in Garner, where they are kept isolated from other inmates.
Using Garner as the site for the program allows the DOC to have the Manson Youth Institution in Cheshire focus on housing even younger prisoners.