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Officials say prison population beginning to flatten out

January 31, 2019

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut officials expect the state’s prison population will continue to decline over the next year, but at a slower rate than in the recent past.

An annual report released Thursday from the state Office of Policy and Management predicts the state will have about 310 fewer inmates in the system a year from now, a drop of about 2.3 percent.

During the same period in the past year, the prison population fell by 420 inmates, or about 3 percent.

There are currently 13,463 prisoners in the system, which is down more than 32 percent from about 19,900 in 2008.

Most of those reductions have occurred in the number of inmates already convicted and serving sentences rather than those who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or sentencing.

The report said the most recent declines can be attributed to factors such as the streamlining of procedures used for parole and preparing a prisoner for release. It also noted that recent legislation has led to fewer young offenders being treated as adults.

Marc Pelka, the state’s undersecretary for criminal justice policy, said in order to continue seeing a decline in the prison population, the Lamont administration plans to focus on the pretrial prison population and repeat offenders.

He said that will include tackling issues such as access to housing, jobs and substance abuse treatment in an effort to keep people out of the system.

“These are issues that can become a barrier for someone looking to become productive members of the community and they can contribute to recidivism,” he said.

Pelka said the statistics show that of those readmitted to prison within three years of being released, 68 percent were readmitted multiple times and 38 percent were readmitted three times or more.

Pelka said the state’s Criminal Justice Policy Advisory Commission met Thursday to discuss how to tackle that problem and how various state agencies that deal with labor, housing and social services can better work with the Correction Department to improve outcomes for prisoners once they are released back into society.

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