WEST HARTFORD – A group of formerly incarcerated people gathered outside the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford today to call for Connecticut to invest in opportunities for all people instead of incarceration. As Connecticut faces decisions about its economy and resources, leaders from the ACLU of Connecticut’s Smart Justice campaign, each of whom had been directly impacted by the criminal justice system, asked for the state to remove barriers to employment for formerly incarcerated people, reduce prison and jail costs by incarcerating fewer people, and invest in building communities instead of incarceration.
Sandy Lomonico, criminal justice organizer for the ACLU of Connecticut, said: “Connecticut taxpayers spend too much money on a system that unnecessarily incarcerates too many people. Incarceration doesn’t help incarcerated people to address real-life issues like addiction, mental health issues, trauma, or economic instability. It doesn’t prepare people to reenter society, support themselves and their families, and avoid reentering the system. To make our state’s economy stronger, Connecticut must stop incarcerating so many people and start investing in people, not prisons. Building a strong economy in Connecticut means including the people living with a criminal record in the state’s economic plans, and it means investing in Black and brown communities that have been disproportionately hurt by the criminal justice system.”
Gus Marks-Hamilton, Smart Justice field organizer for the ACLU of Connecticut, said: “Connecticut’s economy will be stronger when men and women living with a criminal record are employed, earning a fair wage, paying taxes and contributing to our state’s growth. Connecticut will not become the place where people want to work, live and raise their families if people impacted by the criminal justice system are not part of the state’s economic solutions. Formerly incarcerated people are people. We have families to support and communities that depend on us. We are all in this together. Connecticut’s future is our future. Our future is Connecticut’s future.
Anderson Curtis, Smart Justice field organizer for the ACLU of Connecticut, said: “Incarceration is expensive and ineffective. When we say ‘Let us live, let us work,’ we are asking Connecticut’s leaders to make sure their plans to reboot Connecticut’s economy include opportunities for formerly incarcerated people. One job for one person is dignity for that person, their family, and their community.”
For more information about Smart Justice Connecticut: https://www.acluct.org/en/issues/smart-justice