Activists and prison union officials want the Connecticut legislature to reject a plan that would allow Gov. John G. Rowland to send more inmates out of state in exchange for signing a prison reform package. The Hartford Courant says that both groups support reform measures to address overcrowding and the state’s ballooning prison budget. But they oppose a plan to send 1,500 more inmates out of state; the state already houses 500 inmates in Virginia. “We are extremely upset that our loved ones are being used as a bargaining chip,” said Barbara Fair of a group called People Against Injustice.
The activists argues that instead of sending the inmates out of state, legislators should shorten prison stays for some inmates and increase funding for community-based treatment and job-training programs for former offenders. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees opposees out-of-state placements on the ground that they do not save money and eventually could result in the closing of prisons and a loss of jobs.
State Reps. William Dyson D-New Haven, and Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, said they have little choice but to send more inmates out of state. Dyson, chairman of the appropriations committee, said he is opposed to building more prisons. Because the state is in the midst of a prison crowding crisis, he said, short of letting inmates go free, he sees no other option to sending them out of state. Said Lawlor: “If 2,000 inmates are sent out of state and we do nothing else, it would be the most regrettable public policy mistake we would have made in a long time.”