Norway and Germany have two of the most effective and humane correctional systems in the world. Compared to the US, not only are the incarceration and recidivism rates of these two systems substantially lower, but the conditions for all stakeholders (e.g. correction officers, counselors, persons incarcerated, community members, etc.) healthier due to a primary focus on prisoner well-being (restorative) rather than their perceived debt to society (retributive). Over the past two decades, Connecticut has taken several steps to reform and improve its prison and overall justice systems – including a historic trip to German prisons by former Governor Dannel Malloy and Department of Correction Commissioner Scott Semple. However, compared to Norway and Germany, we continue to operate a system that is socially, psychologically, and economically in need of significant reform. A program designed to provide ground level stakeholders first hand experiences with both Norwegian and German justice systems, document these experiences to share with non-participants, and develop model laws, policies and regulations to be implemented within Connecticut, will greatly assist our state’s reform efforts for years to come.
The Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy (IMRP) has been an active leader in criminal justice reform for over 15 years, especially on topics such as: prisoner reentry, sentencing, racial profiling, supporting children with incarcerated parents, and police transparency and accountability. In 2020, IMRP executive director Andrew Clark collaborated with the University Network for Human Rights to both recognize and provide recommendations for justice reform in Connecticut, particularly in light of the Covid epidemic. In Spring of 2022, IMRP expanded this work by establishing relationships with leaders in corrections across the Atlantic. This included the IMRP sponsorship of three webinars on Norway’s corrections systems as rehabilitation, as well as a July 2022 Connecticut/Baden-Württemberg Human Rights Research Consortium (HRRC) workshop in Tübingen, Germany, where Director Clark met with the former director of the Criminology Institute of the University of Tübingen, Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Wulf. This visit laid the groundwork for a proposed Spring 2023 visit by additional Connecticut justice system stakeholders to Tübingen and the state of Baden-Württemberg to learn more of their justice system and continue reform efforts back in Connecticut.