Criminal justice reform conference in Hartford attracts people from across the country

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HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A conference will be underway in Hartford on Wednesday and Thursday that’s bringing together people from all over the country to talk about criminal justice reform.

Robin Cullen knows about our criminal justice system. That’s because she served time behind bars.

‘I was at York from 1997 to 2000. I was there for three years for a DUI-related fatality,” said Cullen.

After she got out of jail, Cullen got involved with the Judy Dworin Performance Project. An organization that sparks awareness about social issues. Specifically on stage, in prisons and in schools. One of those performances taking place at the conference in Hartford called “Reimagining Justice”.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure we are taking all the steps necessary to have a corrections department that correct behaviors,” said Gov. Dannel Malloy.

The event is spearheaded by the Governor and First Lady of Connecticut and they’re bringing together criminal justice professionals from across the country to talk about reform. Specifically when it comes to reducing crime, ending the cycle of mass incarceration and putting people on the right track once they’re out of jail.

“If you can’t move forward in your life to sustain your life financially, the likelihood of you returning to jail for committing a crime is far greater. So public safety is at risk,” said Scott Semple, Commissioner for the Department of Corrections.

“For people coming out of incarceration there are so many challenges. For many people it’s the same thing as before we were in jail. So, it’s housing, clothing, food, shelter. All of those things,” said Cullen.

All of this a major talking point, with a number of initiatives here in Connecticut to curb repeat crime.

“I just spoke to the sheriff of Suffolk County, Boston, Massachusetts, who is taking the time to be with us to share some of his ideas, but he made it very clear he wants to hear what we’re doing,” said Gov. Malloy.

Other states using Connecticut as an example to follow.

“They already are in a sense and I think it’s just moving this initiative forward on a more powerful scale,” said Semple.

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