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New Haven Officials Hail Success Of Recently-Opened Center For Formerly Incarcerated People

Prison Reform
Fifaliana Joy

Officials say a center for formerly incarcerated people in New Haven, Connecticut, could help mitigate gun violence and other crime in the city.

The center offers housing support and job placement, plus help with mental illness and support for mental illness. It’s available for anyone who’s been in prison, no matter when, and has served about 70 individuals since opening in February, according to officials.

New Haven Police Chief Renee Dominguez said the center’s important because it brings all these things under one roof.

“This is an all-hands-on-deck. In order for us to stop the violence that we’re seeing in this city — and it’s not just the city, it’s in Connecticut, it’s all over the country — we need the community, we need the social services providers, we need probation and parole. And we have that collaboration, but now we have it in one place,” Dominguez said.

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said he’ll call for more federal funding for re-entry centers for people recently released from prison.

Blumenthal says he wants to boost funding for the federal Reintegration of Ex-Offenders Program, run through the Department of Labor. The program helps formerly incarcerated people find jobs and housing. Connecticut got about $1.5 million from the program last year.

“So long as re-entry is available, people can be given opportunities. They can avoid the kind of cycle that all too often is repeated. With people out on the streets repeating crimes because they have too few opportunities,” Blumenthal said.

About 60% of people released from prison in Connecticut are rearrested within three years. That’s similar to the national rate of recidivism.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.