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With Crime Rate At 49-Year Low, Connecticut Closes 4 Units At State Prison

Gov. Dannel Malloy
Gov. Dannel Malloy Photo Credit: Jay Polansky, File

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – As a result of the continuing decline in the state’s crime rate and the resulting drop in the prison population, the Connecticut Department of Correction has closed four housing units at the Osborn Correctional Institution in Somers, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced.

The four units – commonly knowns as “the Q’s” – once held a total of more than 400 inmates.

With reported crime at a 49-year low – and dropping significantly each year – and the number of prisoners recidivating and returning to prison down 19 percent, the Department of Correction has been able to close three entire prisons and portions of several existing prisons. Most recently, the 550-bed Niantic Annex was closed in January.

New admissions to prison is the single biggest factor behind the dropping prison population, down 17 percent since 2012. The total prison population is down 13 percent over the same period.

“As crime continues to experience a significant decline in Connecticut, we’ve been able to reallocate resources and close outdated prisons and portions of facilities throughout the state, including the four units announced today at Osborn," Malloy said. "This is the direct result of smart criminal justice policies that are making our neighborhoods the safest they’ve been in nearly two generations.

“Across the country, bipartisan leaders are recognizing that these kinds of reforms are working, and Connecticut is leading these efforts. Violent criminals are serving longer sentences, while we’re tailoring our approach with non-violent offenders. We are making real progress and in the process, improving lives and bettering our communities.”

Osborn Correctional Institution opened in 1963 as a replacement for the old Wethersfield State Prison. At its peak in 2008, the facility housed more than 2,000 inmates across 17 housing units. With this announcement, the number of housing units has been reduced to 13 with a total inmate population below 1,400.

“As an agency, we strive to have a positive impact on recidivism. A reduction in the offender population is a clear indication that those who work for the Department of Correction are making a difference,” DOC Commissioner Scott Semple said. “I credit our staff for their diligence.”

Over the past three years, Connecticut has seen a 23 percent drop in violent crime – the largest decline of any state in the nation. Connecticut’s violent crime rate is now at its lowest level since 1974, with the overall crime rate at its lowest level since 1967.

Today, the state’s total inmate population is 14,800. Last month, the population dropped by 254 inmates. By comparison, in November 2015 the inmate population fell by 84 inmates. The state’s all-time high inmate population peaked at 19,894 in 2008.

The DOC has taken a number of steps to improve offender re-entry, including the creation of a streamlined and centralized release unit.

Over the past two years, the department has opened four reintegration centers, three at Cybulski Correctional Intuition and a one at York Correctional Institution. A reintegration center specifically focused on the youth population is in the process of opening at the Manson Youth Intuition in Cheshire.

Other recent correctional facility closures include the Webster Correctional Institution in Cheshire in January 2010, the Gates Correctional Institution in Niantic in June 2011, the Bergin Correctional Institution in Storrs in August 2011, the Fairmount Building at Bridgeport Correctional Center in July 2015, and the Niantic Annex Facility in January 2016.

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