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Sound Bites: What happens after a Connecticut prison closes

The Willard-Cybulski Correctional Institution in Enfield, Connecticut
Cloe Poisson
CT Mirror
The Willard-Cybulski Correctional Institution in Enfield, Connecticut

Good morning. Willard Correctional Institution in Enfield closed on Saturday. The facility was shut down due to the state’s declining incarcerated population — estimated to be about 10,000 inmates. Connecticut’s highest inmate population was nearly 20,000 in 2008. 

After a steady decrease in violent crime in the 2010s, the closing of Willard is part of a plan to close three correctional facilities in the state. This closure will also save $6.5 million in annual operating costs, according to Governor Ned Lamont. 

Most of Willard’s 260 inmates were relocated to the Cybulski Community Reintegration Center in Somers.

Here’s a bite-sized look at what else we are hearing: 

East Haven officials and residents denounced an environmental assessment of the proposed expansion of Tweed New Haven Airport. At a hearing on Saturday, Mayor Joseph Carfora testified that he wanted a more detailed review from the Federal Aviation Administration. Supporters of extending the runway and adding a new terminal and parking, including the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, are concerned delays could have a negative impact on its future. The airport authority said “it’s understandable that some residents will have strong feedback” as a part of moving the project forward.

Eversource and United Illuminating expect energy costs for Connecticut to lower by July. Standard rates from both utility companies have jumped by roughly 40% since 2022, causing customers to complain about the high cost of energy through the winter.

Governor Kathy Hochul launched New York’s latest Medicaid pharmacy benefit program. NYRx is expected to improve prescription drug access and coverage at more than 5,000 pharmacies for the 8 million New Yorkers enrolled in Medicaid statewide.

Bridgeport police officers decided not to join the Connecticut Fraternal Order of Police union. Instead, they will stay in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Many officers considered leaving the AFSCME to receive “better benefits and wages.”

New Haven’s first-ever violence prevention coordinator has resigned. Three months after accepting the position, Reuel Parks resigned due to personal reasons. The position oversees the Program for Reintegration, Engagement, Safety and Support, or PRESS, to reduce gun violence and support victims of shootings.

Connecticut’s two senators joined with 23 colleagues to call for more CDC funding to research gun violence. Senator Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said the legislation would provide the CDC $50 million each year for five years to conduct this research. In the past five years, more than 180,000 people died from gun violence in the country according to the Gun Violence Archive.

A West Haven contractor was sentenced to 8 years in prison on Monday for stealing COVID relief funding. John Trasacco tried to get a new trial after former state Representative Michael DiMassa and his wife Lauren testified that they conspired and defrauded the city of $1.2 million. DiMassa is still awaiting his own sentencing.

Stamford-based World Wrestling Entertainment will merge with UFC. Vince McMahon, WWE executive chairman, announced together with mixed martial arts, the organizations will form a united live sports company worth more than $21 billion. The merger is expected to be finalized in the latter half of this year.

Technically, you can now take the Long Island Rail Road to Yankee Stadium! This was made possible due to the completion of the $11.1 billion East Side Access megaproject. The first trip was for the 2023 Major League Baseball season opener on Thursday. Fans were able to take the Metro-North Hudson Line to see the team face the San Francisco Giants.

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Eric Warner is a news fellow at WSHU.