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Juvenile Detention Officers Push For Safe Staffing

Juvenile Detention Officers Jay Pelletier, left, and Jennifer Puffen speak at a press conference.

Bridgeport, CT, Feb. 11, 2011 – State Juvenile Detention Officers said today that chronic understaffing of employees in the state’s three juvenile detention facilities in Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven imperils workers and juveniles in the system.

The workers, who are members of Local 749 of Council 4 AFSCME, made their statement during a press conference outside the Bridgeport Juvenile Detention Facility.

“I never forget that I’m here for the kids, my co-workers and the taxpayers,” said Jay Pelletier. “I take pride in my work so it bothers when I see something that needs fixing. And I think our juvenile detention centers and Central Transportation Unit need fixing.”

A resident of Cromwell, CT, and an officer at the Hartford Juvenile Detention Center, Pelletier said that the workforce in the facility has been stretched dangerously thin because of short staffing. He also noted that even the vehicles used for transporting the kids are breaking down.

Juvenile detention workers, especially in Bridgeport, have been repeatedly mandated to work overtime because of short staffing. The longer hours mean more injuries and workers’ compensation claims, lower morale and a less positive and constructive environment for the juveniles.

According to statistics compiled by the union, there were 26 injuries leading to workers’ compensation claims during a 10 month period in 2010.

“I am proud of the work I do,” said Jennifer Puffen an officer at the Bridgeport facility and a resident of the city. “I feel I am making a difference, but the juvenile detention system needs fixing. We need more resources to do our jobs and to be there for the kids.”

Pelletier and Puffen are members of Local 749, which represents more than 1,500 State of Connecticut Judicial Criminal Justice employees.

AFSCME Local 749 members and Local 1522 (City of Bridgeport) after our press conference.

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