Editor’s Note: The state Department of Correction asked that this letter to Law Tribune columnist Norm Pattis also be published as a letter to the editor.
To Attorney Pattis:
I am writing in response to your recent Law Tribune column entitled, "A Hostile Encounter at the Prison Gates" in which you recount a recent visit to the York Correctional Institution in Niantic.
First, let me offer my apologies as it is clear that you felt disrespected in the way you were treated as you arrived at the facility and sought to sign in so that you could visit with a client. The Connecticut Department of Correction strives to maintain the highest level of professionalism in all of its daily duties, particularly in its interaction with the public.
When it comes to accommodating professional visits, from attorneys such as yourself, we understand the constraints you are under and do attempt to make the experience as easy as possible, within the necessary constraints of safety and security. Our web site includes a special section that allows attorneys to call or e-mail ahead to set up such visits.
We have taken your concerns very seriously and have looked into this matter as we fully believe that we have an obligation as a state agency to be responsive and accommodating.
The officer assigned to the front gate that day is a trusted 17-year veteran of the agency who was chosen for that post based upon his experience and past performance in dealing with those visiting the facility. His questions to you, for identification and the purpose of your visit, were standard requests we make of everyone who arrives at a correctional institution.
He then followed up with a request for a "bar card" so that he could document your visit on the professional visits form which is facility protocol. When that became an issue, because you didn’t have that piece of identification with you, he did what is expected and called a supervisor to resolve the issue.
I must state, I do not appreciate your sarcastic and undeserved descriptions of the officers you interacted with, nor do I agree with the broad negative brush with which you then painted the facility and the agency.
If in the future you have any issues in scheduling a client visit at any of our correctional institutions, please contact my office and we will resolve those matters as quickly as possible.
Leo C. Arnone
Connecticut Department of Correction