Gov. Lamont announced on Tuesday that his administration has plans to close Willard Correctional Institution in Enfield by April 1, 2023. Willard will be the third prison to close in recent years, joining Radgowski and Northern correctional institutes that shut down in 2021 due to the state’s declining prison populations.
The drop in prison populations has correlated with the state’s drop in crime. Over the last decade, Connecticut’s violent crime rate fell by 43 percent and the property crime rate dropped by 29 percent. In the most recent year of available data, Connecticut’s violent crime rate was less than half the U.S. rate.
The Lamont administration worked with the leadership of the Connecticut Department of Correction to develop plans to close Willard. According to the governor’s office, closing the facility will save taxpayers approximately $6.5 million in annual operating costs and focus correction resources more efficiently on the current population.
“Because spending millions annually to operate facilities for a population that is significantly smaller than just a few years ago is not a good use of taxpayer money, Connecticut is continuing to right-size its correction system to concentrate resources more effectively,” Gov. Lamont said. “I applaud Commissioner Quiros, along with all of the correctional professionals at the Department of Correction, for their tireless efforts to keep the facilities secure and our communities safe.”
The approximately 260 individuals incarcerated at Willard will be transferred to other facilities in the state. Additionally, the staff of Willard, roughly 71 correctional officers, will be transferred to other facilities within close proximity to the prison. No one will be laid off, according to the governor’s office.
The transferring of the staff will help to fill vacancies at other facilities and help to reduce overtime expenses which are routinely the highest among state agencies, reaching over $94 million over the last fiscal year.