More Than 1 Factor Might Have Contributed to Unit Closures at Osborn Correctional

The state is closing four units at Osborn Correctional Institution in Somers that once housed hundreds of inmates.

Gov. Dannel Malloy held a news conference on Wednesday and credited his criminal reforms and the declining prison population in Connecticut, but the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters learned there might be more to it than that.

For more than a year, correction officers have told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters about health concerns connected to Osborn regarding testing for PCBs for half a decade.

Malloy and the commissioner of the Department of Correction announced the closure of a large unit known as “The Qs” and said the state’s efforts to reduce crime at its source are is working.

“The reality is that crime is significantly down and over the past three years, Connecticut witnessed the largest drop in violent crime of any state in the nation,” Malloy said.

However, former Osborn correction officers who spoke with the Troubleshooters earlier this year said the Qs might have been closed for another reason.

Former Osborn correction officer Roger DeNino said a report from five years ago, paid for by the Department of Correction, noted elevated levels of PCBs, a known cancer-causing building material, in bathroom windows inside the Qs and also outside kitchen windows.

The Department of Correction has provided paperwork showing as recently as this year that PCBs were removed from bathroom shower windows inside the Qs.

“I was expecting inmate attacks, I was expecting blood borne pathogen exposures, I was expecting stress, but I did not expect the building itself could be toxic,” DeNino said.

Malloy said it’s at least possible PCBs might have been a factor in the closing of the Qs, but he did not go further than that,

“Very frequently we take into consideration environmental concerns about those institutions or quite frankly just the status of the building the age of the building,” he said.

Paperwork NBC Connecticut obtained shows the state only paid for the Qs to be tested for PCBs and no other part of Osborn.

The governor said he is not aware of that.

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