The Connecticut General Assembly
OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH
August 19, 1994 94-R-0819
FROM: Veronica Rose, Research Associate
RE: Responsibility For Prisoner Transportation
You asked for a legislative history of CGS § 6-32d(3) to determine who is responsible for transporting a prisoner who becomes ill while in the high sheriff's custody.
The example you provided involved a prisoner who was brought by a municipal police department to a superior court lockup. While in the lock up, the prisoner claimed that he was ill. As a result, he had to be treated at an area hospital. The high sheriff contends that the police department is responsible for security and transportation arrangements while the prisoner is being treated. The police department claims that the high sheriff is responsible.
Under CGS § 6-32d(3), high sheriffs are responsible for the custody of prisoners at courthouses unless there is a courthouse lockup for which local police are responsible. There is no discussion of this provision in the legislative history of the legislation. The legislation began as Raised Bill 5585, An Act Establishing a Prisoner Transportation and Courthouse Security System. It had a public hearing before the Judiciary Committee on February 25, 1980. The committee favorably reported it to the Government Administrations and Elections Committee, which favorably reported it to the Appropriations Committee on March 31. Neither committee held a hearing on the bill. The Appropriations Committee favorably reported the bill to the floor on April 21. On April 25, the House passed it after a brief debate; the Senate passed it on April 30 on the Consent Calendar without debate. The only discussion of the legislation (both in the hearing and in the House) was on a provision that created courthouse security officers.
The law, CGS § 6-32d (1) and (2), explicitly gives the high sheriff responsibility to move male prisoners between courthouses in his county and (1) community correction centers until sentencing, (2) other places of confinement after arraignment and until sentencing, and (3) the initial place of confinement after sentencing. It also makes the high sheriff responsible for transporting female prisoners between courthouses in their counties and community correctional centers other than Niantic. It is not clear whether these provisions should be interpreted as excluding the responsibility for transporting prisoners to hospitals and providing security for them while they are there.
The County Sheriffs' Advisory Board has indicated that on some occasions, police departments have attempted to "dump" prisoners who are ill in the high sheriff's custody. In such cases, the high sheriff has refused to take custody of the prisoners and asked the department to take responsibility for them. But exactly what happens when a prisoner becomes ill while in the custody of the sheriffs is unclear. According to James Gasecki, the board's chief fiscal officer, the high sheriff would take the prisoner to the hospital and continue to provide security. But it is not clear whether the high sheriff provides the service because it is his responsibility or because of some understanding with the police department. Bill Kirkby, legislative liaison for the State Police Chiefs Association, suggested that the action taken in the situation you described may be based on an informal understanding between a department and the high sheriff rather than law.
Because of the nature of the dispute, we did not contact the sheriffs or police departments for an interpretation of the question. (Please let us know if you would like us to do this.) There are no court cases on this issue and we do not know how a court would interpret it.
We have attached the public hearing testimony and the floor debate.