The Connecticut legislature has approved a plan to reduce state prison population, reports the Associated Press. Senators praised the bill as an effort to reduce recidivism and a way to avoid building more prisons. Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said the measure “represents a recognition of the fact that we will never be able to build our way out of a criminal justice issue.”
The prison population of about 19,000 is 2,000 more than state facilities were built to handle.
Inmates have slept on cots in gymnasiums and cafeterias, though a dip in the population early this year has ended the need for those measures. The new legislation calls for a community justice center in Hartford for 500 prisoners. It would allow judges to order drug- or alcohol-dependent offenders into treatment instead of prison.
Virginia has told the state it will no longer keep 500 Connecticut inmates in their prisons. Officials are accepting bids to house those prisoners in other states. The new law allows 1,000 prisoners to be sent out of state until 2007. Proponents hope that under the new law, if signed by Gov. John Rowland, the prison population will be low enough so that the state will no longer need to send prisoners elsewhere.