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Correction officers stabbed at Newtown facility

By Rob Polansky, Evan Sobol

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    NEWTOWN, Connecticut (WFSB) — Two officers were stabbed at a correctional facility in Newtown on Tuesday.

The Department of Correction reported that the incident happened at the Garner Correctional Institute in Newtown.

An inmate stabbed one officer in the neck and the other in the torso, officials said.

DOC officials said the attacker used a sharpened toothbrush to stab the officers.

The officers were treated at the hospital and released, the department said.

“The attacker was immediately secured and transported to the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution’s Restrictive Housing Unit,” officials said.

The department identified the attacker as 35-year-old Joe Baltas of Meriden.

Baltas is serving a life sentence for murder, according to information on the DOC’s website.

“He last entered the Department of Correction on October 26, 2006,” said officials.

DOC commissioner Angel Quiros released a statement:

As Commissioner, this is my worst fear – that our brave staff members are attacked and injured. I rushed to the hospital as soon as I learned of the assault, and thank God, they are all right.

This is a sobering reminder of the dangers our courageous correctional professionals face on a daily basis. We must always remain vigilant. I am doubling down on my efforts to ensure the safety of these fine men and women.

Dept. of Correction Commissioner Angel Quiros

The AFSCME Local 1565 union also released a statement:

On the morning of August 22nd, an inmate viciously and without provocation attacked a corrections officer at the Garner Correctional Institute in Newtown, CT. The correctional officer was stabbed in the neck sustaining significant injury, which then required him to be transported to a local hospital for treatment. For the past two years the Union has sounded the alarm concerning the rise in unsafe working conditions as a result of policy changes to out-of-cell time and administrative segregation.

Assaults on staff have become more and more frequent and violent in nature, almost doubling in the last three (3) years*. These assaults will continue down this path and the result could be deadly unless swift and concrete steps are taken. We urge the DOC and state legislators to act on the concerns repeatedly raised by the Union and its members, to ensure that correctional officers who uphold the duty to protect the public are also protected.

Mike Vargo, President AFSCME Local 1565 State police and the DOC are investigating the incident.

No other details were released.

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