New Officer Training at York Correctional Institute

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By Jacqueline Stoughton

New training protocols are in store for correctional officers of the Janet S. York Correctional Institute following the third arrest of a guard charged with the sexual assault of an inmate.

York is currently scheduled for a Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) audit in March 2016. Karen Martucci, Acting Director of External Affairs for the Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC), explains that Commissioner Scott Semple did not hesitate in ordering an internal pre-audit.

“The audit is complete and the facility has begun to address areas cited within the final report,” said Martucci. “In addition to PREA training, our training academy [Maloney for Center for Training and Development] is developing a gender specific curriculum focused on the dynamics of the female offender.”

Becky Nay, Director of the National Resource Center on Justice Involved Women (NRCJIW), echoes the importance of educating officers on female offenders’ specific needs.

“We at the National Resource Center on Justice Involved Women think there should be additional training for those who work with women to learn gender responsiveness, knowledge of trauma and how it affects behavior, motivational interviewing, and skill-based training of how best to de-escalate incidents and fights,” said Nay. “In terms of sexual assault, there’s a whole new area of training they have to do under the Rape Elimination Act.”

The new training program at York, entitled “Offender Supervision: Unique Needs of Female Offenders,” was scheduled to begin this fall. All pre-service employees will receive this new training.

“We are in the process of developing new training and essentially will be revisiting our old training and emphasizing how to work with female offenders,” said Andrius Banevicius, a DOC Public Information Officer. “We’ll be updating the statistics of who the female offender is and what the makeup of them is in Connecticut prisons, and the impact of trauma on women.”

Banevicius explains that general correctional officer training is a 10-week program, consisting of six weeks for staff development at the Maloney Center located in Cheshire, Connecticut, followed by four weeks of on-the-job training at their assigned facilities.

Kareem Dawson, 34, reportedly turned himself in late June, making him the latest to be facing second-degree sexual assault charges in regards to an on-going investigation by the state police following allegations of sexual misconduct made by a 28-year-old formerly incarcerated woman. Jeffrey Bromley, 47, and Matthew Gillette, 44, were also arrested on identical charges earlier this year. All three men worked in the same unit at York in Niantic, Connecticut.

While Bromley and Gillette have since been fired, Dawson has been placed on administrative leave.

The victim claims to have had individual sexual relations with the three correctional officers between August and October of 2014 during her time in the Davis building, a housing unit specific for those participating in drug treatment programs. The woman also believed she was pregnant but tested negative, according to court documents. She has since been released on parole.

According to research published in “The Shame of Our Prisons: New Evidence” by David Kaiser and Lovisa Stannow, as of 2012 about 3.2 percent of those in jail, 4 percent of those in state and federal prisons, and 9.5 percent of those in juvenile detention centers have reported sexual misconduct in their respective facilities. The majority of those victims are abused by staff members, and are repeatedly abused throughout the course of a year.

“It should be noted that the Department of Correction would not tolerate this type of behavior. Former employees Bromley and Gillette were separated from state service and the newest case involving Officer Dawson resulted in placement on administrative leave,” said Martucci.

Martucci stated that in addition to the audits, the Commissioner has reached out to the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA) to request a cultural assessment of the facility and recommendations for improvement.

The incidents, which enacted immediate action from the state agency, also initiated a priority camera project.

“Without disclosing specific locations that would jeopardize safety and security, I will affirm that this project will enhance our current capabilities,” said Martucci.

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