Danbury Prison Rep Says ‘You Can’t Look the Other Way’ on Racial Tension
Pat Wynne is the Treasurer for AFGE Local 1661, a union that represents the employees at Danbury's Federal Corrections Institution. Wynne is also our inside source for all things Danbury FCI on the I-95 Morning Show.
Recently there were news reports of racial tension at the facility, so we asked Pat to join us on the I-95 Morning Show to share as much as he'd be willing. This is a transcript of that conversation from Tuesday (8/8/23).
I-95 - A couple of weeks ago, there was a report in the News Times, I could be wrong, it feels like a couple of weeks ago and I'm just going to read an excerpt here and maybe you can clear this up for us. It says:
"Racial tension between management and staff at the federal prison has given the low security correctional facility of 1,000 men and women the nickname Klansbury staff told a special team of investigators last month during a fact finding tour."
What is that about?
Pat Wynne - "We spoke last month when the team was here and I couldn't give you guys too much information because we didn't have any at the time. But yeah, there was some racial tension stuff that was brought to management's attention and it appears that a lot of it went on deaf ears. So, the union was notified about some of the things that were going on and we requested to have a team come out, like a social climate type survey. So the CREED team (Coalition For Racial & Ethnic Equity in Development) that were comprised of management officials as well as union officials and they came through to talk to a lot of the staff to see what was going on."
I-95 - So this isn't between staff and prisoners, this is your management group versus your staff?
Pat Wynne - "Yeah, like I said it's kind of a social climate, management and bargaining unit staff and staff to staff with certain insensitive comments being made and you know, stuff like that came out in that report and that is what we have now. We're dealing with that now. On different levels, the new Warden has been great, right off the bat he's had some listening sessions with the effected employees, with the union, with management. He's gone over his expectations when it comes to diversity and things like that so it seems like we're in the right direction and that's where it stands now."
I-95 - So the people you represent feel they've been treated unfairly from a racial standpoint?
Pat Wynne - "Yes absolutely. It's a personal type thing, it's kind of hard to explain in my position. I don't see it everyday but I'm not the one that's effected by it. When someone does bring this type of complaint to the union, myself or my partners on the E board, we have to take it all seriously. You can't just look the other way on stuff like this it's 2023 this type of stuff shouldn't be going on.
I-95 - What was the organization you said paid the visit, CREED?
Pat Wynne - "CREED is the name of the organization. I'm not 100% sure of what they are I just know because I deal with the union side of it. I'm not 100% sure, the next time I talk to you I can probably get more information on what the actual.....it's a conflict resolution team. So, it's comprised of Bureau employees you know on the management side as well as the unit. So, they go around to institutions to see when there are allegations of unfair treatment, they go around, give a report to the union and to the Warden and the goal is to work together to get these issues fixed."
I-95 - I would assume you need to get special permission for an outside organization to come in?
Pat Wynne - "No this isn't an outside organization, I don't believe so. According to the reports that I'm reading it's actually the Bureau of Prisons conflict resolution team. They come through, see what is going on and make recommendations to make it better."
I-95 - What were their recommendations? Who did they side with?
Pat Wynne - No, there are no siding. That's the thing with the report it's kind of I don't know. They questioned all the employees and then they give the report to the Warden and the union. So, we just take it as fact. You know, if people feel that way, we have to take it as fact and move forward with it."
There was a whole lot more to the conversation and you can listen to the remainder of it below.
These are some heavy issues and it seems like there is still a lot of work to be done and questions to be answered at the Danbury FCI so we'll have more information as it becomes available.