HARTFORD, CT - Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC) Commissioner Scott Semple today announced that the DOC has opened a new unit at the Cheshire Correctional Institution that will house offenders between the ages of 18 to 25 with the goal of preventing these young adults who have committed nonviolent crimes from beginning a life of crime and returning to prison.
Known as the T.R.U.E. Program – which stands for Truthfulness, Respectfulness, Understanding, and Elevating – this unit will provide young offenders with access to developmentally appropriate programming that seeks to engage them as productive members of society. Offenders began integrating into the unit at the end of January, and it is currently housing 38 people.
“We know that the longer we keep young people out of the adult criminal justice system, the less likely they are to commit crimes and become incarcerated as adults,” Governor Malloy said. “All young people make mistakes – and for the vast majority of them, it will not result in an interaction with the criminal justice system, but for some it will. And for the young adults who are in custody, the decisions they make upon their release back into the community may impact the rest of their lives. Our prisons should not serve as crime schools for the young. Low-risk, young offenders should not be treated the same way as adult offenders. We need to set these youth on a better path toward a future that does not include criminality.”
When the Cheshire Correctional Institution opened in 1913, it was originally known as the Cheshire Reformatory and was designed for male offenders between the ages of 16 to 24, with the intention of separating these offenders from the adult prison population. In 1968 it was merged administratively with the newly created DOC and in 1982 it was designated for adult males. Since that time, the state has lacked a unit specifically targeted toward young adults.
Last month, Governor Malloy introduced a legislative proposal to the Connecticut General Assembly that makes a systemic distinction – when appropriate – in how young adults within the justice system are treated by creating a new category for young adults between the ages of 18 to 20 in the state’s juvenile justice system. In most cases, these young adults would be extended protections found under existing youthful offender statutes and would benefit from services available to those in the juvenile justice system.
Nicholas Turner, President of the Vera Institute of Justice, said, “The dedication of the young adult T.R.U.E. unit in Connecticut is a powerful demonstration of Governor Malloy’s deep commitment to criminal justice reform that is rooted in evidence about what works for public safety. It is also proof that the momentum for justice reform – which is driven by our states and local communities – remains strong. We are inspired by Governor Malloy’s leadership, and proud to work with the Connecticut Department of Correction on this important effort to reimagine prisons so that they provide opportunity to their youngest residents, and ultimately, their families and communities.”