In 1999 Connecticut had so many people in prison that it sent 500 of them to Virginia jails. Nearly 25 years later, the state has cut its imprisoned population in half and closed more than 10 prisons while keeping its crime rate at its lowest level in more than 40 years. Its rate of 155 people imprisoned per 100,000 residents is now the ninth lowest in the US. “We’ve shown over a 15-year period how to do [criminal justice reform] right,” said current state Rep. Steve Stafstrom. “It’s far cheaper to invest in community support and other alternatives than incarceration.” The decline in incarcerated individuals has dovetailed with a 43% decrease in violent crime and 29% decrease in property crime from 2012 to 2021. A TRUE unit at the Cheshire Correctional Institute, which was created after a 2016 visit to German prisons, combines incarcerated men age 18 to 25 with older imprisoned men who act as mentors to younger people. But the state has not reinvested recent savings from closing three prisons into social programs that can help today’s youth, said the Connecticut Justice Alliance.

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