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Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning has left a military prison in Kansas and returned to civilian life Wednesday, seven years after being taken into custody for what is seen as the largest leak of classified data in U.S. history.

"After another anxious four months of waiting, the day has finally arrived," Manning said in a statement released by the American Civil Liberties Union. "I am looking forward to so much! Whatever is ahead of me is far more important than the past. I'm figuring things out right now — which is exciting, awkward, fun, and all new for me."

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Connecticut’s prison population is getting older, upping the demand for healthcare including hospice programs that serve inmates and ex-offenders.

This hour, we find out what it means to die with dignity behind bars. 

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Al Capone told everyone who asked him what he did for a living that he was a "property owner and taxpayer in Chicago." He was really a powerful multimillionaire in 1920s Chicago who made money from the illegal sale of alcohol during Prohibition and the vices that usually accompanied it: gambling and prostitution.

Following the suicide of former New England Patriot player Aaron Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence for murder at the state's maximum security prison in Shirley, Gov. Charlie Baker said he has faith in his Department of Correction commissioner.

The governor said the number of prison suicides in Massachusetts has declined over the past decade, but said, "Anytime anybody kills themselves in a prison, something clearly went wrong."

Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was found hanged in his prison cell early Wednesday.

"Mr. Hernandez hanged himself utilizing a bed sheet that he attached to his cell window," Christopher M. Fallon of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections said in a statement obtained by NPR member station WBUR. "Mr. Hernandez also attempted to block his door from the inside by jamming the door with various items."

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The state's House Judiciary committee has advanced a bill to limit the use of solitary confinement in Connecticut prisons.

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Diversion programs offer first-time youth offenders an alternative to the traditional juvenile justice system -- sometimes called a pipeline to prison. For a little over a year in New Haven, a diversion program called Project Youth Court has taken shape. 

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A traveling exhibit, now in New Haven, aims to give people the opportunity to experience solitary confinement and learn about its effects. It includes a replica of a prison cell and people are invited to go "Inside the Box."

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As U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions prepares to take command of the Department of Justice, more than two million Americans find themselves incarcerated in state or federal prisons or local jails. 

Criminal Justice Reform: What's At Stake?

Dec 28, 2016
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The U.S. locks up more people than any other country in the world, with 2.3 million people behind bars. One-third of the U.S. population has a criminal record. 

A cell the size of a parking space is where more than 60,000 prisoners nationwide are being held in solitary confinement. That’s according to a study by Yale Law School and the Association of State Correctional Administrators released Wednesday. And there could be more people who were not counted because states like Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont couldn’t provide data.

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Al Capone told everyone who asked him what he did for a living that he was a "property owner and taxpayer in Chicago." He was really a powerful multimillionaire in 1920's Chicago who made money from the illegal sale of alcohol during Prohibition and the vices that usually accompanied it: gambling and prostitution.

Adnan Syed, whose murder conviction was exhaustively explored in the first season of the hit podcast Serial, has asked a judge to release him on bail.

His lawyers said they filed the request in a Maryland court on Monday.

Syed is currently waiting to go to trial — again. This summer, a judge agreed that Syed's defense attorney had mishandled his case during his murder trial in 2000, and granted a new trial.

Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families is set to close its last juvenile prison by 2018, and on Thursday showed lawmakers a new plan to send children elsewhere.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A Connecticut woman who was sentenced to 18 years in prison for killing her newborn baby is speaking out about the state’s Safe Havens Law. 

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Inmates with substance abuse issues face the highest risk of relapse, or fatal overdose, within the first few weeks of being released from incarceration. Research shows that 80 percent of former inmates with opiate dependence issues will relapse within a month of leaving jail. 

U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez made a stop in New Haven, Connecticut, to make what he called a house call. He was checking in on an ex-offender re-entry program supported in part by the federal government. It helps those formerly incarcerated prepare for jobs once they’re released back into the community.

The Labor Department will hand out $5 million in grants to fund job centers for people coming out of jails, part of a broader Obama administration initiative to help reduce recidivism, NPR has learned.

"The earlier you start investing in people who are incarcerated, the better the odds of a successful outcome," Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said in an interview.

The new batch of funding means that 41 such grant projects in a number of states have now won federal funding, known as Linking to Employment Activities Pre-release.

John Atashian / Judy Dworin Performance Project, Inc.

Life after prison presents multiple challenges as ex-offenders re-enter society. 

John Atashian / Judy Dworin Performance Project, Inc.

“Brave in a New World” premieres next week, September 15, at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts — weaving spoken word and dance around the experiences of ex-offenders and their families. It’s the latest piece from the Judy Dworin Performance Project.

This hour, we hear about the upcoming artistic performance that digs deep into what it means to live in prison — and what it means to leave.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Second chances are often talked about in relation to conversations about prison reform, but rarely do we hear from those who actually need them. This hour, we take a look at Connecticut’s “Second Chance Society” through the eyes of a former inmate

U.S. Justice Department officials plan to phase out their use of private prisons to house federal inmates, reasoning that the contract facilities offer few benefits for public safety or taxpayers.

In making the decision, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates cited new findings by the Justice Department's inspector general, who concluded earlier this month that a pool of 14 privately contracted prisons reported more incidents of inmate contraband, higher rates of assaults and more uses of force than facilities run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

This hour, we discuss Governor Malloy's Second Chance 2.0 legislation and find out why it failed to pass during the 2016 session. We also look at what some Connecticut communities are doing to support re-entry. And we talk to a local restaurant owner about his decision to hire ex-offenders

President Obama has commuted the sentences of 214 federal inmates — "almost all" of whom were serving sentences for nonviolent crimes. According to the White House, it's the "most grants in a single day since at least 1900."

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim is struggling to win support for a program to help fellow ex-convicts find jobs.

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Hundreds of prison inmates across Connecticut will now have access to federal grant money to help pay for college. 

A New York jury has found five corrections officers guilty of felony charges for brutally beating an inmate in 2012 at the notorious Rikers Island jail complex.

The five men were found guilty on all counts, including the most serious charge of attempted gang assault against inmate Jahmal Lightfoot. The beating left Lightfoot "with fractured eye sockets and a broken nose," Reuters reported.

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The Associated Press said Hillary Clinton "clinched" the Democratic nomination for president on Monday. The Bernie Sanders campaign and supporters weren't happy. "Let those people vote and decide before the media tells them that the race is over," Sanders' campaign manager Jeff Weaved told CNN. Should the A.P. have waited until after Tuesday's final big primary day?

Michael Burghardt couldn't sleep. His legs were shaking, his bones ached and he couldn't stop throwing up.

Burghardt was in the Valley Street Jail in Manchester, N.H. This was his 11th stay at the jail in the last 12 years. There had been charges for driving without a license, and arguments where the police were called. This time, Burghardt was in after an arrest for transporting drugs in a motor vehicle.

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