One of a handful of states that operate jails in lieu of local authorities, Connecticut has implemented a number of jail-related reforms, including programs to divert the mentally ill from jail through a community-based release plan, and to help defendants post bail. Under the leadership of Governor Dannell Malloy, crime in Connecticut has dropped to a 40-year low while the prison population has also declined significantly. To continue building on past reform efforts, Connecticut was awarded $2.5 million from the Safety and Justice Challenge in 2016 to invest in innovative and commonsense strategies to further reduce the average daily jail population over the next two years.
To address the overuse of jails in Connecticut, the state will implement initiatives in the three largest cities which have the highest rates of custodial arrests and concentration of communities of color: Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven. To address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, the state will expand implicit bias training in all three cities and will undergo an evaluation of current racial and ethnic disparities to establish a baseline for improvement. The Hartford Alternative to Arrest Project is a community policing pilot that will deflect individuals from custodial arrest and connect them to mental health, substance abuse, and social services. It is anticipated to help 800 individuals avoid jail over the next two years. Additionally, the state will expand its Jail Diversion Substance Abuse program to provide an additional 95 defendants with access to court-based diversion to detox and residential treatment to avoid pre-trial detention. Lastly, the Collaborative Ongoing Review Team in the City of New Haven will pilot an alternative case processing stream for low level high needs individuals. The project will introduce an early case conferencing model that will help streamline case processing and increase the use of existing diversion options.