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The Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC) is the official agency in charge of imprisonment and corrections in Connecticut. The Department maintains a total of 20 correctional institutions, with its headquarters in Wethersfield.
The Old Newgate Prison in East Granby served as the starting point for Connecticut's penal system. Initially, it served as an unprofitable copper mine upon opening its doors in 1705. However, Connecticut started to utilize the tunnels as an incarceration facility during the revolutionary war periods. Later, authorities converted Old Newgate to a state facility for male inmates in 1790 through 1827 after the establishment of a new state prison in Wethersfield.
The governor appoints the Commissioner of corrections with the advice and consent of the General Assembly. Further, the Department is divided into three major divisions: Adult Institutions, Community Corrections, and Administration. Each division is headed by a Deputy Commissioner reporting to the Commissioner.
Inmates at all custody levels can earn time off their sentence for good behavior, also known as a meritorious good time. The DOC also offers rewarding work, education, and treatment programs for inmates at its correctional facilities throughout the state.
Currently, the agency has more than 6,000 total employees spread across the state of Connecticut. Interested individuals can access details on the facilities under the CT DOC on the Department's official website through this link. The website gives comprehensive information on each facility, including visiting days and population information.
The current Commissioner in charge of CT DOC is Angel Quiros, appointed in 2020.
Education for inmates has been mandated since 1854. At this time, a law was passed requiring inmates to be instructed in reading, writing, and arithmetic. Presently, education is defined as a rehabilitative service mandated by law. As such, inmates can access education opportunities through Unified School District, which is legally vested through CT DOC. The inmates are also entitled to a minimum of at least one hour of class time per day unless it is outweighed by security or health issues.
Some of the programs offered through education include Adult Basic Education (ABE), General Educational Development (GED), English as a Second Language (ESL), Post-Secondary Education, Vocational Training, Scholarships, earning college credits while incarcerated, and General Interest Courses.
Parole is a prison release before the scheduled release date. The Department ensures that each prison gets a Parole Officer responsible for dealing with parole needs. Additionally, the officer is responsible for preparing parole packages for submission to the Board of Pardons and Paroles. This board has the jurisdiction for approving early release requests.
Generally, most offenders whose sentences are more than two years qualify for parole consideration. Those eligible get a Parole Eligibility Date (PED) that determines an offender's early release date.
Determining this date involves calculating 50% of an inmate's total sentence duration, or 85% of the same. In most cases, offenders who have committed non-violent offenses are given a 50 percent PED. Those in incarceration for violent acts or who have a history of violent crimes are more likely to get an 85% PED.
This hearing or review helps the Board of Pardons and Paroles determine whether an inmate will get parole. The hearing or the review happens six months before the scheduled PED.
The board holds a parole hearing if the offender has an 85 percent PED. Here, anybody who wishes to attend, including the inmate, family members or friends, and the victim, can do so. However, it is important to inform the prison's parole officer for approval. Some facilities use videoconferencing for these hearings.
Convicts with a 50% PED get an Administrative Review from the board instead of a parole hearing. Attendance requirements for this review may vary depending on the institution.
Inmates can gain valuable work experience and reduce their sentence by working 40 hours per week. This program provides DOC with much-needed manpower. Each institution has a designated industrial complex where inmates work in the areas of facility maintenance, food service, custodial services, clothing and linen services, evidence storage, and many more.
Some inmates work in the community through a private business or with the DOC staff outside the perimeter fence. This work outside an institution is called "Crews." Crews provide real-world training to inmates for their survival upon release. Further, the Department of Corrections crew inmates working outside the perimeter fence are under dual supervision. This means they are under surveillance from both DOC staff and the outside agency.
Inmates working in the community have a direct impact on public safety and positively contribute to their communities. They support themselves and reduce taxpayer burden by paying restitution, rent, child support, and a two percent payroll deduction for life insurance premium.
Inmates access these services through the facility transitional counselors and education department. This program provides offenders with systematic information and guidance. As a result, they acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to find employment, food, and general survival upon release.
Moreover, the program helps the inmates gain access to crucial documents such as:
The guidance process in the program involves the use of workbooks and videoconferencing for clarity. This program has a primary goal of reducing reoffending and re-incarceration among inmates.
The Transitional Services Program is voluntary. Nonetheless, the Department requires that every eligible offender be accorded a participation chance. This requirement is especially for offenders with six months or less until their scheduled release date.
Further, each prison's responsibility is to inform its population and come up with its own eligibility requirements.
The CT DOC mandates that any visitor to any institution must be part of an offender's visitation list. This requirement also applies to minors under 16 years. As such, offenders must submit to the facility's counselor the names and addresses of each possible visitor. Afterward, the counselor will send a Visiting Application and facility's visitation rules to the prospective visitor.
The requirements are that the application form recipient must fill them and resend them back to the facility via mail. The counselor undertakes a review of the application and will either approve or deny it. Approved names will be included in the inmate's visitation list.
A minor must be in the company of a minor. Additionally, the accompanying persons must be on the official visitation list.
Visitors may use either a driver's license, passport, military ID, or state ID as a form of identification. On the other hand, minors will need a birth certificate in addition to a second identification form for approval at the entrance.
It is the responsibility of each institution to come up with visitation regulations, including visitation time and days.
Connecticut Department of Corrections detains all-male juveniles at the Manson Youth Institution in Cheshire, Connecticut. On the other hand, the York Correctional Institution houses all female juveniles convicted of crimes within the state.
The Department offers a variety of programs for juveniles in these facilities. Some of the most popular available programs include:
It is a requirement that all Department's detainees undergo evaluation for their need for drug addiction treatment. Individuals with drug addiction issues get assistance from the Addiction Services Unit. The Unit provides a range of drug addiction services from basic orientation to therapeutic communities. Moreover, it also offers prerelease substance addiction treatment.
There are a variety of reasons why offenders may move between institutions. Transfer eligibility is based on several factors, including:
Some convicts may seek a hardship transfer. Such a transfer is meant to take an inmate closer to a loved one. This is necessary if the inmate's only close family member is very ill and cannot travel to the prisoner's current location. As such, the Department undertakes extensive evaluation and assessment to determine the seriousness of the situation before granting this request.
The Connecticut DOC inmate search is a method that allows people to access criminal records, personal information, and other information regarding convicts who are currently or have been incarcerated in the state. The initial step involves visiting the DOC offender locator website. The website contains fields that interested individuals must fill to generate results. These search fields include the CT DOC inmate number, offender's first name, last name, and date of birth.
A combination of either of the options is critical for better search results. The search results list comprehensive details about the inmate, including the type of crime, scheduled release, parole eligibility, and current location.
Sometimes, individuals can access additional specifics about a Connecticut conviction not contained on the prisoner information page. These persons must visit the Connecticut Judicial Branch Site for a complete list of conviction details in such a case.