Connecticut Correctional Infrastructure Shrinks

NIANTIC, Conn. — The Niantic Annex, a facility of the Connecticut Department of Corrections system, closed on Friday, Jan. 8. The annex was part of the more than 100-year-old Janet S. York Correctional Institution in Niantic, the state’s sole female-only prison. Prior to closing, the Niantic Annex once held just less than 600 male inmates, but at its closure housed less than 50.

With this most recent closure, five correctional facilities have now been decommissioned in the past several years. The Webster Correctional in Cheshire, a low-security, pre-release institution that provided a variety of skills, education and addiction treatment, was closed in January 2010. In June 2011 the J.B. Gates Correctional Institute (also located on the York campus) was shuttered, followed in August 2011 by the level 2, medium-security Donald T. Bergin Correctional Institution in Storrs, which served pre-release male offenders. While the high-security Bridgeport Correctional Center in Bridgeport remains operational, the facility’s 204-bed Fairmont dormitory building was taken off line in July 2015. That closure in particular was then expected to save the state $2.1 million annually. Thus far closings have equaled a total annual savings of approximately $30 million for the state.

“This is the direct result of the lowest prison population in nearly 20 years and the lowest crime rate in nearly 50 years,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement announcing the York Annex closure. "We have far fewer people entering prison today than at any time in the last quarter century."

The state’s most recent inmate count was 15,560, down considerably from its 2008 peak of nearly 20,000. Malloy added in his announcement that over the past eight years the state has experienced a 23 percent decrease across the prison population. The governor has also pushed his “Second Chance Society” initiative, which aims to provide tools that will reduce recidivism and help former inmates succeed.

“We are making real progress in Connecticut to change lives and break that cycle of poverty, crime and prison that has impacted far too many people,” Malloy said of the initiative during the closure announcement. “Violent criminals are serving longer sentences, while we’re tailoring our approach with non-violent offenders.”

The closure will require the transfer of the remaining inmates to new facilities and is expected to save the state an estimated $7.6 million annually. Niantic Annex staff, however, will also be reallocated or transferred to other facilities. Currently no plans have been announced as to the building’s demolition or future use.