News 8 gets behind the scenes tour of prison reform

Photo via Connecticut DOC Twitter

SOMERS, Conn. (WTNH) — The prison doors rumble and clank at Osborn Correctional Facility as the commissioner opened the doors to News 8 for an exclusive tour of the maximum-security facility. The prison population in Connecticut has hit a 20-year low, with less than 15,000 inmates in the system.

Commissioner Scott Semple wanted to show News 8 firsthand why they’re having success.

“There is a TV perception of the role corrections does, the fact of the matter is we are called the department of corrections so when you can correct the things and turn them into law abiding participating citizens. It’s good,” said Semple.

According to the FBI, in the past three years, Connecticut has had the largest drop in violent crime in the U.S. One of the reasons is because the commissioner and Governor Malloy have looked at the research and redesigned their programs at Connecticut correctional facilities.

At Osborn, the inmates manufacture clothes and mattresses. They learn a job skill, but that has been going on for decades. New research shows that many inmates have been locked up since their teenage years and have never held a job, let alone set foot in the workplace. So not only do they learn a skill, but in this program, they are taught how the workplace operates so they know what to expect on day one and can fit in.

Ray Munroe is in charge of their transition.

“So here they get to punch a clock, come in, go on break and subject to the same rules pretty much as we are, such as days missed from work and so forth,” said Munroe.

The men in the manufacturing program are the ones most likely to succeed on the outside. They have proven themselves. Warden Edward Maldonado said some are getting their GED’s, others can take college classes.

“It is a sense of accomplishment and we feel like we have prepared the inmates to go out into the community and do the right thing. It’s a representation of what we do inside when they go outside and they become productive citizens,” said Maldonado.

The rate of violent crime in Connecticut is at its lowest levels since 1974. In Connecticut, the warden says the system is successfully changing with the times.

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