Connecticut officials are recommending that a minimum-security prison be closed, a move that would have been unheard of during the tough-on- crime days of the mid-1990s, reports the Hartford Courant. The Department of Correction wants to close the Webster Correctional Institution, which holds about 220 criminals near the end of their sentences.
The state is trying to recover from the worst economic downturn in decades. Closing the prison would save an estimated $3.4 million a year when the state’s budget deficit projection for the current fiscal year is approaching $550 million. The recommendation marks a sharp departure from the days when Connecticut was rapidly expanding the space to house convicted criminals. No prisons have been closed in recent state history. The prison guards’ union calls the closure a bad idea, even though it would not cause layoffs. “Closing Webster will put greater strain on other overburdened facilities and services,” said Dwayne Bickford, president of AFSCME Local 387.