The Council of State Governments Justice Center notes that in 2003, policymakers in Connecticut, facing an unprecedented budget deficit and a prison population growing faster than any other state, were presented with two options: release people from prison early or contract with other states for additional prison beds to relieve crowding. Instead they chose a third way — a justice reinvestment strategy.1 With nearly unanimous support in the legislature, the state enacted laws that streamlined the parole process for low-risk offenders, addressed the high rate of probation violations, and developed a comprehensive strategy to reduce recidivism.2

Approximately $13 million of the nearly $30 million saved from the reduced need for prisons was used to fund community-based diversion and probation programs that research indicates can sometimes produce a greater public safety benefit for each dollar spent.3 Probation violations dropped from 400 in July 2003 to 200 in September 2005.4 The decrease in the prison population over a two-year period was steeper than that seen in almost any other state while the crime rate continued to drop.5

Former Republican Governor Jodi Rell, who had been a strong supporter of community-based approaches backed by research for holding nonviolent offenders accountable, stated in December 2009 that her administration was able to close a prison because of: “a decline in the inmate population, the agency’s success with a number of post-release programs, and the need to find savings and efficiencies in state government.” Rell went on to note:

“Any decision such as this must always be made with public safety foremost in our minds … We face an extraordinarily difficult budget situation—a challenge unlike any we have known in modern memory … While other states—including states facing even more severe budget problems than our own—are being forced to build new prisons, we can make the most of our successes by building on these achievements.”6

This prison closure, which is estimated to save $3.4 million, is a result of Connecticut’s effective policies to community-based approaches and reduce re-offending. Since the state began bolstering probation supervision and treatment, more offenders are successfully completing their probation and the crime rate has declined 6.3 percent.7

Levin: “Give Youths Sentenced As Adults A Second Look Later”

Right on Crime | April 29, 2014
In Connecticut you must be 18 to vote, serve on a jury or enter into a contract. The law recognizes that adolescents are less equipped to make important decisions…

The Conservative Case Against More Prisons

Right on Crime | March 18, 2013
Our policy experts Vikrant Reddy and Marc Levin wrote an excellent piece recently for The American Conservative magazine. It’s entitled, “The Conservative Case Against More Prisons” and appeared in…

Connecticut Prison Population Is Down Dramatically

Right on Crime | July 16, 2012
Connecticut’s criminal justice administration predicted a prison population of 17,213 in the first week of July of 2012. Instead, the population stands at 16,586—3.6 percent below the forecast. And…

Fighting Overcriminalization in Connecticut Tooth and Nail

Right on Crime | December 5, 2011
Right on Crime has long focused on the increasing scope of criminal law, state and federal. This often includes laws and regulations which criminalize and penalize (sometimes even with…

Some Common Sense Limits on Arresting School Kids

Right on Crime | October 5, 2011
Connecticut is taking the first step towards reducing the number of needless police interventions in its public schools. According to this story, probation supervisors will now conduct reviews of…

Prison Union Warns Connecticut Leaders Of Imminent Riots

Right on Crime | July 25, 2011
According to a recent AP article, Connecticut will close the Bergin and Enfield Correctional Institutions this fall. The closures are a response to the failure of state employees to…

Connecticut’s Prison Libraries are Suddenly the Center of Attention

Right on Crime | December 5, 2010
Last week, Steven Hayes was convicted of murdering three women in a Connecticut home invasion. Hayes's case sparked national interest earlier this year when his defense attorneys filed a…
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