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Connecticut Inmate Population Drops Below 15K For First Time In Two Decades

Handcuffs Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — The statewide inmate population within the Connecticut Department of Correction has dropped below 15,000 – the lowest level it has been since Jan. 3, 1997, when it was 14,989, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced.

"FBI statistics show that Connecticut is experiencing the lowest crime rate in 50 years,” Malloy said

The state is also continuing initiatives to better handle the inmate population and reduce the chances of recidivism, Malloy said.

“Connecticut is part of a nationwide trend in states ... to end the era of permanent punishment and focus on permanent reform, and these efforts are making our state a safer place,” he said. “We need to break the cycle of crime and poverty that has damaged too many families, and to do this, we must ensure that these inmates are prepared with the tools to become successful, productive members of our society upon their release.

"These Second Chance reforms we’ve initiated are changing the lives of families and communities in a positive direction.”

Correction Commissioner Scott Semple also praised the decline in inmates. “These numbers are a clear indication that Governor Malloy’s criminal justice reform efforts are improving public safety,” Semple said.

“The data is impressive, but it’s the policies and the people who make them possible,” Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Dora Schriro said. “State and local police, in partnership with the Judicial Department and the Department of Correction are making a measurable difference keeping Connecticut safe.”

In 2015, Malloy enacted a series of Second Chance Society initiatives through executive actions. He also adopted statutory changes to continue the progress the state has been making in reducing the crime rate, as well as ensuring that nonviolent offenders are reintegrated into society and become productive members of Connecticut’s economy.

These initiatives included:

  • Reducing the penalty for possession of drugs from a felony with a seven-year minimum sentence to a misdemeanor with a maximum one year in jail.
  • Eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent, no victim drug possession offenses.
  • Establishing an expedited parole process for nonviolent, no victim offenses.
  • Establishing an expedited pardons process for nonviolent ex-offenders, where there is no victim objection.
  • Opening the Cybulski Community Reintegration Center at the Willard-Cybulski Correctional Institution in Enfield, designed to concentrate appropriate programs and services to prisoners nearing the end of their sentences.

The number of offenders from September 2015 to September 2016 fell by 1,130.

Recent statistics show that crime in Connecticut is at a 50-year low, with violent crime dropping an estimated 7 percent in 2015. This is on top of the 9.7 percent decrease in 2014.

The reduction in the crime rate and resulting dropping in inmate population is also benefitting Connecticut’s taxpayers. On average, the state spends about $168 each day to house an individual inmate. The inmate decline has allowed the DOC to close down three correctional facilities, in addition to sections of three others.

Full correctional facility closures include:

  • The Webster Correctional Institution in Cheshire in January 2010 at a savings of $3.4 million a year;
  • The Gates Correctional Institution in Niantic in June 2011 at a savings a $12.3 million per year; and
  • The Bergin Correctional Institution in Storrs in August 2011 at a savings of $12 million per year.

Partial facility closures include:

  • The Fairmont building at Bridgeport Correctional Center in July 2015 at a savings of $2.1 million per year;
  • The Niantic Annex at York Correctional Institution in January 2016 at a savings of $7.6 million per year; and
  • A section of Osborn Correctional Institution known as the “Qs” is in the process of closing and, once completed, has an anticipated savings of $2.2 million per year.

The DOC’s all-time high inmate population was on Feb. 1, 2008, when it reached 19,893.

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