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New Haven receives $2 million from DOJ to lower reincarceration, gun violence rates

Mayor Justin Elicker (D) joined advocates to announce the grant on Monday.
Molly Ingram
Mayor Justin Elicker (D) joined advocates to announce the grant on Monday.

The City of New Haven has received a $2 million federal grant to bolster one of their gun violence prevention programs.

It’s called the Program for Reintegration, Engagement, Safety and Support (PRESS).

PRESS connects formerly incarcerated individuals with services like job training, case management, and family support. It’s in an attempt to lower recidivism rates and deter violence in the city.

One hundred and fifty individuals have been enrolled since the program began in 2022.

Mayor Justin Elicker said among those 150 enrollees, the program has a recidivism rate of 14% — the state average is 32%.

“When you compare the state average of 32% within one year, and up to 45% within two years, the numbers for PRESS are frankly quite remarkable because they are much much lower as far as recidivism rates,” Elicker said.

Dijonee Talley is with the city’s Department of Community Resilience — according to Elicker, she was instrumental in building the program.

Talley said the $2 million from the federal Department of Justice will expand PRESS in two ways.

“It's going to allow us to provide better services, more consistently,” Talley said. “So the folks that we do engage with, which has mostly been the returning citizen population, but also we have folks who are high risk in the community right now — we don't have to wait until they're incarcerated for them to come out. And so in this capacity, having more people on the team is actually going to allow us to go into the community, and work with folks who are at risk right now.”

PRESS will also use the money to hire two full-time life coaches, a workforce development/career resource specialist and a family case manager.

Shootings in New Haven have been down since last year. In early December 2022, 115 people had been shot. This year, the number has fallen to 92.

However, homicides by gun are up since last year. Twenty-two people have been fatally shot.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.