- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 7, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut plans to close another prison in response to declining crime rates and a falling inmate population.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Tuesday that the medium security Enfield Correctional Institution will close in early 2018.

Enfield, which opened in 1962 and currently houses about 700 inmates, is the seventh prison or section of a prison to be shuttered in Connecticut since 2010.

Malloy said the move will save the state about $6.5 million in operating costs.

“As crime in Connecticut has dropped to its lowest level in two generations, new prison admissions have declined 38 percent over the last ten years, and the prison population has reached its lowest level in 23 years, we’ve been able to create efficiencies by closing outdated facilities and reallocating these resources toward efforts that will further enhance public safety initiatives and keep our neighborhoods even safer,” Malloy said in a written statement.

There are now just over 14,000 inmates in the Connecticut prison system, more than 800 fewer than at the same time a year ago and down from just under 19,900 in 2008.

The inmates will be redistributed throughout the prison system, Malloy said.

He said the state also hopes to redeploy many of the prison’s 190 staff members to nearby facilities.

Scott Semple, the state’s correction commissioner, credited a combination of factors for the historically low offender population, including the governor’s Second Chance Society initiative, which among other things reclassified some drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.

Collin Provost, president of the union local that represents correction employees, said the move did not come as a surprise, but is concerning from a broader policy standpoint.

“We will remain vigilant,” he said in a statement. “We will not hesitate to speak out if the continued reduction of the inmate population compromises the safety and security of staff, inmates or the community.”

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