DANBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal are angry after they were not allowed access to parts of a local prison for a quality control check.
At a press conference Wednesday, Murphy said the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury has one of the highest COVID positivity rates in the entire prison system, noting it can take two to three days to receive COVID test results.
The union for correctional officers described the staffing situation as “horrendous.”
Murphy said he is angry about how restrictive the tour was. They were not allowed to see the women’s facility and had to “fight” to get in to see a men’s unit, according to Murphy.
“We’re the representatives of the people of this state, of the taxpayers who are footing the bill for the operation of that prison. We absolutely need to see the conditions, to make sure that everyone inside that facility is protected,” Murphy said.
The senators basically were kept away from any areas where inmates were, said Shaun Boylan, a Danbury prison staffer and executive vice president of the local prison staff union, Local 1661 of the American Federation of Government Employees. He said prison officials had no objections to the original tour itinerary until Wednesday morning.
The tour was changed to include mostly empty areas, including a dining room for men and secure areas just outside the housing units, Boylan said.
“The officials here said we’d love to have you come back when COVID is over,” Blumenthal said. “We came here to see conditions when COVID is the problem. That was the whole point.”
The Bureau of Prisons said in a statement that Murphy and Blumenthal were given a tour of the prison “based on current COVID-19 safety protocols.”
Blumenthal said he will be asking the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate staffing at Danbury and other federal prisons.
Murphy, Blumenthal and U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, also a Democrat in the state, called for a federal investigation of the Danbury prison complex earlier this month after saying they received reports of officials not following coronavirus protocols.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.