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Katal Connecticut Update- February 2, 2023

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Governor Lamont Announces Closure of Willard Correctional Institution

Last week, in the face of continuing demands from Katal and other community groups to shut down prisons in Connecticut, Governor Ned Lamont announced plans to close Willard Correctional Institution on April 1, 2023. Over the last decade, community groups and advocates have pushed for decarceration, and the prison population has declined by nearly 45%. During this same period, there was also a 43% reduction in violent crime in Connecticut. This closure will save taxpayers in Connecticut at least $6.5 million annually.

In response to the closure, we released the following statement from our co-executive director Lorenzo Jones: 

“Closing the Willard Correctional Facility is the right thing to do. Willard is the third prison to be shut down in the last two years, and this is a testament to decades of organizing in Connecticut to end mass incarceration. At the Katal Center, our membership has organized to cut the correctional population, shut down prisons, and win investments in real community safety – housing, health care, education, jobs. So it’s good to see Lamont announcing a prison closure, but it’s not enough. Lamont needs to take the necessary next steps here. First, the savings from this prison closure must be invested in the Black, Brown, and low-income communities most harmed by criminalization and mass incarceration in our state. Second, Connecticut’s prison population has decreased by 5,000 people in the last five years, yet the size of the Department of Corrections has remained relatively constant.  The DOC remains one of the largest departments in the state, with more staff than the Department of Transportation. Lamont should cut the size of the Dept of Corrections and shutter more prisons. Every day, Katal organizers are talking with Connecticut residents, and every day, we hear the same thing: communities want investments in the things that produce real safety – housing, health care, education, jobs. Now is the time for sustained action to end our reliance on incarceration and advance racial justice in Connecticut.”

We were featured in the CT Insider and the CT Mirror’s coverage of the prison closure announcement.

To get involved in our #CutShutInvestNY campaign, please email Maribel at

COVID-19 Behind Bars

As COVID-19 resurged over the winter months, the number of cases inside the Connecticut Department of Corrections has spiked. This has resulted in multi-week-long lockdowns at the state’s largest prison,  MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution. This week, our member, Claudia Cupe, who has a loved one incarcerated spoke to the CT Insider about how the conditions on the inside have been “just terrible all around.” Incarcerated people remain in dangerous conditions due to the virus and Governor Lamont’s lackluster response.  Read the full piece here. 

Growing Power: A Cultivating Justice Workshop Series

On Saturday, February 18th we’re joining Cultivating Justice for their Grow Power workshop series in Middletown, CT at Wesleyan University. There will be workshops on Gardening 101, Black Herbalism & Healing, and Fishing 101. Register for the workshops hereAs part of the series, we’ll also be leading a workshop on our flagship Building Leadership and Organizational Capacity (BLOC) Organizer Training. This session is intended for current community organizers and/or any individual interested in an examination of how power functions in the community and how to shift it towards those most marginalized. Register here to attend the BLOC Organizer Training.

Katal Quotes of the Week

These are some of the quotes we’re thinking about this week. 

“It is so easy to have principles. Far, far harder to live by them.”— N.K. Jemisin

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”–Maya Angelou

“We understood that politics is nothing but war without bloodshed and war is nothing but politics with bloodshed.”–Fred Hampton

For printing and distribution, download the Katal Weekly Update PDF version.

Katal works to strengthen the people, policies, institutions, and movements that advance equity, health, and justice. Join us: web, Twitter, Facebook! Email: Phone: 646.875.8822.

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