Touring Garner Correctional Facility Wednesday, Rep. Mitch Bolinsky met with the prison's new warden, former Deputy Warden Henry Falcone, and learned about how the 118-acre prison on Nunnawaulk Road operates.
Falcone and Deputy Warden Amonda Hannah served as tour guides for the visit.
"I was very impressed with the level of care prisoners with acute mental health needs receive at Garner," said Bolinsky. "As a legislator who worked on a bipartisan bill to improve early childhood mental health treatment, my hope is Connecticut’s renewed effort to better the mental health system for young people will prevent many of the offenses now being committed by this very different class of criminals."
About 60% of Garner's inmates are there because of incidents contributed to by mental illness, Bolinsky said.
"I'd like to see us get to a place where we can diagnose and treat mental illnesses early and in a way we can reasonably expect to get the needed help and attention to these folks before acts of violence occur," he said. "Of course, most mental illness that goes undiagnosed or untreated does not necessarily lead to violent crime but, as we continue to learn, it's clear that prevention requires our attention as a society. As Newtown's State Rep, this holds special importance to me."
Opened in 1992, Garner is a maximum-security state correctional facility off Nunnawauk Road, on 118 acres of former Fairfield Hills property. Newtown receives a financial windfall for hosting the prison — the state of Connecticut provides payment in lieu of taxes to the town, totaling $1.7 million in the last two-year budget period.