Northern Correctional Institute

The state’s only super maximum prison, Northern Correctional Institution, will close Monday, three weeks ahead of schedule, according to Gov. Ned Lamont

The prison located in Somers sparked controversy and at least one recent lawsuit over conditions. An attorney for Disability Rights Connecticut described the conditions there as “horrendous.”

Lamont and state Department of Correction Commissioner Angel Quiros announced in February four days after DRCT filed their lawsuit that the prison would close by July 1.

There has been less than 100 inmates housed at Northern CI in the past year, including 11 former death row inmates who were held in harsh conditions called “special circumstances” even though the state abolished the death penalty in 2012.

“New prison admissions in Connecticut have declined significantly over the last decade and the incarcerated population is currently at a 32-year low,” Lamont said Friday. “This is even as violent, high-risk inmates are serving more of their original sentences than ever before. Spending millions of dollars annually to operate facilities for a population that continues to get smaller and smaller is not a good use of resources, especially as we work to reduce the cost structure of state government. I applaud the ongoing work of all the correctional professionals at the Department of Correction, who keep our facilities safe and secure.”

Closing the prison will save the state $11.75 million in annual operating costs, state officials said. The 175 DOC staff members who worked at Northern CI have been moved to other facilities, officials said. The total prison population has hovered around 9,000 for about a year as inmates were released and fewer people were held on bond during the pandemic. At its height, the DOC had 19,894 inmates in February of 2008, officials said.

“I have to once again give credit to the Department of Correction staff, this time for the professional manner in which they systematically went about closing the Northern facility,” Quiros said. “There were a lot of moving parts that needed to be coordinated, and they were able to do so – during a pandemic – without negatively affecting the safety of the incarcerated population, their fellow staff members, or the public at large.”

Advocates including the American Civil Liberties Union Connecticut Chapter and Stop Solitary CT have been calling for the closure of the prison for years. Opened in 1995 as the state’s only “supermax” prison, the facility had 510 inmates at its peak in 2003.