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Commissioner Cook Talks About Changing Times At Connecticut’s Prisons

Oct 14, 2019
ANDRIUS BANEVICIUS Andrius Banevicius / Connecticut Department of Correction

Much of the criminal justice system has changed over the three decades that Rollin Cook has worked in prisons. At the beginning of his career, the main job of correction officers was to warehouse inmates – make sure the jails and prisons were secure, that the prisoners made it to their court hearings, that the gates opened and closed.

nathanmac87 / Flickr Creative Commons

Cities and towns have laws to keep people from engaging in behavior that may disturb others, like sleeping on park benches, drinking in public, or just plain “loitering”.

What does it mean when just hanging out in a public space puts you in violation of these laws?

Joshua Davis

Over the 21 years Sen. Cathy Osten worked for the Department of Correction, mental illness was so pervasive among Connecticut’s inmates that it was not unusual for her to hear from families who were grateful their loved ones were incarcerated because they were better off behind bars than on the street.

A Connecticut man who was wrongfully imprisoned for 27 years said he’s delighted by the verdict in his lawsuit against four Springfield, Massachusetts, police officers — but not for the reason you might think.

Allen Allen / CreativeCommons.org

The American criminal justice system has become less 'just' over recent decades and prosecutors bear much of the responsibility.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Right now, there are 941 women in prison in Connecticut. For those that make it out, one of the most difficult initial parts of re-entry can be finding somewhere to live.

A fire recently devastated one home that helps former inmates.

Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department / Wikipedia

The FBI, the Justice Department's inspector general and the New York City medical examiner will investigate how billionaire and convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his jail cell at Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan early Saturday morning. 

ADAM WALKER CLEAVELAND/FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

A first-in-the-nation bill that would make phone calls from Connecticut prisons free is moving to the next level. 

Allen Allen / Creative Commons

The American criminal justice system has become less 'just' over recent decades and prosecutors bear much of the responsibility.

THOMAS HAWK / CREATIVE COMMONS

Connecticut legislators are hoping to pass a bill that would make phone calls from prisons in the state free. Currently the high cost of communication between prisoners and their families has negative consequences.

Cheryl Senter / New Hampshire Public Radio

A transgender inmate seeking treatment for gender dysphoria is suing state correctional officials.

Adam Walker Cleaveland/flickr creative commons

The Connecticut state Judiciary Committee passed a bill this week that could make prison phone calls free.

Henry Hagnäs / Creative Commons

Criminal justice reform advocates thought the state was on a better path after former Gov. Dan Malloy signed a 2017 law that banned solitary confinement for juvenile prisoners.

But a January report by the state Office of the Child Advocate found that young inmates in adult facilities were still being put in isolation. 

"Phyllis Porter Place Setting" by Lisette from the series Shared Dining, by Women of York.
Susan Meiselas / Three Guineas Fund Project

A traveling art exhibit, created by a group of women incarcerated at Connecticut’s York Correctional Institution, is now on view at the Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford. 

For 27 years, Mark Schand lay in his prison cot in Massachusetts and plotted out the retail empire he'd been envisioning since well before his arrest.

"I would lay in bed, my eyes wide open, looking at the ceiling, just thinking of a color scheme, and picture the uniform," said Schand.

Matt Benoit / iStock/Thinkstock

Senate Democrats have unveiled their plan to legalize and tax recreational pot. Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney said with neighboring Massachusetts already selling legal marijuana, Connecticut needs to treat cannabis like other adult products.

“What we need as we have done with alcohol, as we have done with tobacco is a scheme for legalization for those who are adults, plus regulation and taxation,” said Looney.

nathanmac87 / Flickr

Cities and towns have laws to keep people from engaging in behavior that may disturb others, like sleeping on park benches, drinking in public, or just plain “loitering”.

What does it mean when just hanging out in a public space puts you in violation of these laws?

Bru-nO / Pixabay

Black and Hispanic men and boys in the U.S. experience worse health outcomes than other groups. This hour we take a look at Connecticut’s first-ever report card on the health of men and boys of color in our state.

A bedroom in the intake unit of the Connecticut Juvenile Training School in November 2015.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

A new report is raising serious concerns about conditions for young people incarcerated or detained in Connecticut facilities.

Ryan Caron King / CT Public Radio

Outgoing governor Dannel Malloy has received mixed reviews over the last eight years. His approval rating has made him one of the least popular governors in state history. But many see the democratic governor’s changes to the criminal justice system as his greatest success. 

Judy Dworin Performance Project

When Suzi Jensen went to see her mom in prison at the age of 12 she was only allowed to hug her twice, once at the beginning of the visit and once at the end.

Thomas Hawk /thomashawk / Flickr

Multiple lawsuits allege Connecticut’s prison system failed to properly diagnose and treat prisoners with serious illnesses. This hour we hear from a mother whose 19-year-old son died of an infection while incarcerated. Scott Semple, the outgoing prisons Commissioner, also joins us. What steps have been taken to improve health care behind bars?

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Criminal justice reform advocates are trying to spark a larger conversation regarding the role race and poverty play in mass incarceration. In Hartford recently, a dialogue took place between lawyers, community stakeholders and rehabilitated offenders. 

Pxhere

A Meriden Republican has continued his public attacks against crime under Gov. Dannel Malloy's administration a week after Malloy said the state’s crime rate was at a 51-year low.

THOMAS HAWK / CREATIVE COMMONS

Connecticut voters support reducing the prison population and investing in rehabilitation instead of incarceration. That’s according to a new poll released Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut.

Ryan Lindsay / Connecticut Public Radio

Before the Hartford Reentry Welcome Center opened, people in the city fresh out of prison didn’t have one central place where they could find housing, counseling or even a clean, safe place to use the bathroom. Now, they do. The center - located in City Hall -  is a partnership between Community Partners in Action, the City of Hartford, the Department of Corrections and more than 40 local organizations.

Jenn Vargas / Flickr

Today, we take a look at a series of disturbing cases of alleged medical malpractice of inmates incarcerated in Connecticut.

The Psychopath Show

Aug 23, 2018
Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

You know lots of sociopaths right?

It could be anyone from your ex-spouse to the guy who cut you off on your drive to work today. It's a term we throw around loosely to refer to anyone whoever lied to us or didn't follow the rules.

But, if we use it that way, it's not a very useful term. A sociopath is not the same thing as a jerk. In fact, the person you know who strikes you as a jerk is probably not a sociopath because it's not in the best interests of sociopaths to let you know what kind of people they are and sociopaths are usually pretty good about acting in their own best interests.

So, what does this term mean?

Sent To A Hospital, But Locked In Prison

Aug 6, 2018
Andrew Butler, who needed psychiatric care, was transferred from a hospital to a prison last year in New Hampshire.
Photo by Wyatt Farwell. Courtesey of Doug Butler

Andrew Butler’s hallucinations and paranoia began last summer. When they persisted into the fall, his father agreed to have him civilly committed — involuntarily sent to the state psychiatric hospital to receive treatment. A few months into his stay at New Hampshire Hospital, Butler was transferred.

To a prison.

Lori Mack / Connecticut Public Radio

A new unit at Connecticut's York Correctional Institution was formally unveiled Monday. The specialized unit focuses on preparing young women offenders for life after prison.

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