- Associated Press - Thursday, July 16, 2015

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Gov. Dannel P. Malloy made a pitch Thursday to a group of Connecticut inmates about a new state law that attempts to give nonviolent criminals more opportunities to get drug treatment and successfully reintegrate into society.

Touring the Hartford Correctional Center, the Democrat’s trip coincided with President Barack Obama’s visit to a federal prison.

“What we’re trying to do is formulate strategies and programs that make it less likely that people reappear here,” he told a group of 12 inmates, some of whom are drug offenders. “The easiest way to hold down the number of occupied beds is if you never come back.”

The Hartford jail houses about 1,000 inmates, most of them men who are awaiting trial. Malloy toured much of the jail, including an outdoor recreation area, dormitories and cells. Some inmates appeared quizzical when Malloy and an entourage appeared, occasionally exchanging a wave with the governor.

Malloy spoke with the dozen inmates in the jail’s school to discuss his new Second Chance Society law, which reclassifies drug possession as a misdemeanor and was designed to provide more help with housing, employment and drug treatment.

Malloy told inmates he wants to give them “the best shot at staying out of” prison. He said they’re “pretty expensive,” costing the state about $120 a night.

Each of the inmates introduced himself to Malloy. One 50-year-old man spoke about using illegal drugs to self-medicate his mental health issues. A professional land surveyor, the man said he would commit larcenies when he ran out of money. He spoke about being ineligible for drug treatment from the court.

Malloy said the new law provides judges with more latitude.

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