HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Governor traveled the state last month drumming up support for a rebuilding of the state transportation system. He says his criminal justice reform proposals will be the other major cornerstone of his second term.
The Governor got a warm vote of approval Wednesday in Hartford’s North End from community leaders pleased with his plans to decriminalize non-violent crimes like drug possession. Wednesday, he announced a further expansion of a successful job training program for those leaving prison to help them stay out of prison.
“Obviously employment is very, very important if we’re going to continue the progress we’re making, have made, and want to increase on recidivism, that is reducing recidivism, this is all part of a plan that we’re trying to bring to Connecticut,” said the Governor.
The community leaders at the forum, like those in the state’s other large cities, have a large re-entry population; people coming out of prison with not many options.
“They’re basically socially isolated and stuck,” said Mayor Pedro Segarra, D-Hartford. “We need to create a system that is more humane, a system that is more responsive to the people that we have in our cities.”
The Governor announced his criminal justice reform plans at the Yale Law School Tuesday, and it’s getting a warm reception in the Elm City as well.
“They’ve got to be coming back ready to be productive members of our community, and the current system that we have now really doesn’t foster that,” said Mayor Toni Harp, D-New Haven.
The new Republican leader in the State Senate says they also like the employment training ideas and the Governor’s plans to eliminate mandatory sentencing.
“The mandatory minimum is probably something we should look at and talk about relieving that from the statute in certain conditions, and give the judges the opportunity to use their judicial discretion,” said Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven. “That’s why we have them there.”
Crime rates are way down in Connecticut, as is the prison population. At Wednesday’s forum, the new Correction Commissioner announced that one of the prisons in Somers is being converted into a “Community Re-Entry Center” and will open in April.