Penal System Reformer Defends Planned Convalescent Detention Center

Advocate decries a hyper-localized mentality in Rocky Hill and the stigatization of the mentally ill.


Prison reform champion Alison Bassett understands the strong sentiment among many residents that Rocky Hill is the wrong location for the state's intended nursing residence for terminally-ill prisoners and patients with mental illness. However, she perceives a familiar syndrome in their collective opposition.

"NIMBY ('Not In My Backyard') is far too prevalent in a lot of areas in Connecticut," she said of the common tendency of more affluent communities to resist placement of unwanted projects in their towns and use political muscle to redirect them somewhere — anywhere — else.

As an employee of a state social services agency, Bassett is well-acquainted with the end result once wealthier municipalities have blocked public projects such as the planned convalescent home.

"They get placed in unsafe, impoverished neighborhoods where underfunding actually does create a safety risk," she says. Such projects, she adds, often end up "congregated in the same areas."

According to Bassett, poorer cities tend to become dumping grounds for these projects because "they lack clout."

"These are communities where people are working so hard just to make ends meet that politics isn't at the forefront of their minds," she elaborates.

Bassett, who is a candidate for an administrative position in the new facility's mental health department, also sees villification of the mentally ill in some of the objections.

"Demonization can be a part of it. The community is going to be skeptical of any group outside the norm of society, and it will lead to fears that are exaggerated."

As an applicant to the facility, Bassett has knowledge of its prospective operation that she can not share. But, as for would-be residents, she states emphatically, "they will not have access to the community." 

Bassett also advocates on behalf of the dying prisoners the facility is set to house. The nursing home will offer "humane treatment for people who are going to die and allow them to see their loved ones in their final days," she declares.

"Why deny them the humane, medical treatment they need?" she questions, while acknowledging the existence of alternate locations where such individuals could receive care.   

Bassett is aware that hers is a lonely voice. The proposed facility is opposed by , and the state corrections union. Residents have also launched a vociferous protest against the plan.

And given that the town has filed legal action to stop the facility from opening, Bassett similarly realizes that neither she nor anyone else is likely to start work there in February when it is scheduled to begin operations.

"This is gonna be tied up in court for a while."  

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cjd11 December 31, 2012 at 02:48 PM
I live near the Westage Condos as well, but I think we need to have some perspective. Why did residents who weren't involved *need* to have a clue what was going on? If there was a suspect on the loose, the police would have informed us, otherwise the best thing for the police and other emergency staff would be to focus on doing their jobs- which is what they did. The police were there to save that woman's life, not to provide a running update to the media and nosy neighbors. It's one thing to notify people in case they are at risk (in this case, they weren't)- otherwise wait until the situation is stabilized and allow investigators to do their work gathering facts, so what's reported isn't bad information.
Jaclyn Farnham December 31, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Residents heard death defying screams and went to try to help the woman until sirens could be heard. I would like to think we'd all do that for our neighbors. And let me just say that it wasn't the police who located the son of the victim which ended the standoff. There is no such thing as a nosy neighbor when someone is hurt and needs help.
mario January 01, 2013 at 12:31 AM
webster c.i. is closed use that in cheshire for a nursing home
Rae January 02, 2013 at 06:34 PM
Im sorry that they are dying but the reality is that they had committed some crime and deserve to be where they are now NOT in Rocky HIll so that they can see their love ones in their final days.... I'm sorry but did the people they killed allowed to see their loved ones before their final days? If you did the crime then you should do the time and my tax dollars should not make your life more comfortable. They should be thankful they have 3 meals and a warm bed to sleep in.... sorry if I sound so cold but its the truth. If I was one of the victims family I would also object to having them move to a nicer facility to enjoy with their families who can come visit.
WINEGUY51 January 21, 2013 at 01:33 PM
"Bassett, who is a candidate for an administrative position in the new facility's mental health department," says it all to me...her only concern is "her,her job, and her wallet'..she could care less about the people who built and live in this wonderful town!..if this was 1778..she would have been "tarred and feathered"..and rightfully so! "we don't need no stinkin' prison for the mentally ill!"


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