A Somers resident and native of north central Connecticut has been appointed to the top post within the state Department of Correction.
Leo Arnone, a 22-year veteran within the department who has also worked for 12 years within the state judicial, accepted the appointment Friday afternoon.
"I'm looking forward to working with Governor Malloy, a former prosecutor and someone who deeply believes in the reformation of our current system," said Arnone, who has served as the interim commissioner seven months after being appointed to the position by former Gov. M. Jodi Rell in July 2010.
"With my career spanning two branches and as many departments, I have a broad understanding of the ways in which we can better address the needs of our criminal justice system," Arnone, 59, said in a news release issued by current Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office.
"Leo is well liked by staff at the department and well-respected by members of his peer community," Gov. Malloy said. "He believes, as I do, that public safety comes first, but we also need to spend less and find ways to reduce recidivism in our inmate population.”
Arnone was not available for comment Friday evening. Brian Garnett, spokesman for the correctional system, said that Arnone intends to focus on improving the department’s “community corrections” operation by preparing prisoners to return to towns and cities as law-abiding citizens.
Garnett said that over the past seven months Arnone has accomplished three significant items:
- Arnone has help manage the inmate population so that it is now at its lowest in 10 years with 17,700 prisoners. Keeping the population low helps to keep the department’s budget low, Garnett said.
- Arnone, who Garnett described as “tech savvy,” has instituted a new emergency notification system that involves wardens and deputy wardens using BlackBerry phones instead of pagers and connecting to the state’s CT Alert system to communicate with other law enforcement agencies.
- Arnone supported and advocated for a $15 million bond package that was approved last week by the state Bond Commission to upgrade the department’s computerized database using modern technology that will make it easier to share information with outside agencies. (No more boxes of files, now it will be digitized.)
Arnone began working for the DOC in 1974 and held positions that ranged from a correctional officer to a captain. He has appointed as the deputy warden and warden at the Hartford Correctional Center and later worked as a regional director with the department, “overseeing six correctional facilities in the Enfield/Somers area, with 4,000 inmates 1,800 employees, 1,700 acres of property, and over 100 buildings,” according to the news release.
Arnone left the department in 1995 and worked for the state Judicial Branch until 2007. There he worked as the superintendent of the Hartford Juvenile Detention Center, and later as the deputy director of operations for Juvenile Detention Services, according to the news release.
For three years until his appointment as interim commissioner for the DOC in 2010, Arnone served as the bureau chief at the Bureau of Juvenile Services within state Department of Children and Families where he oversaw the Connecticut Juvenile Training School, according to the news release.
Arnone served in the Connecticut National Guard and reached the rank of state sergeant before being honorably discharged after seven years of service, according to the DOC Web site.