Communities In Action

Community Partners in Action works tirelessly to bring the necessary stakeholders together to break the cycle of repeated incarceration.

Together with nonprofits and community leaders in Greater Hartford, Greater Waterbury and other cities and towns in Connecticut, Community Partners in Action creates a safety net of effective community based services that provide people a supportive transition back into the community. We are helping people discover new pathways in life.

A Study In Success: Prison Arts Program

The Prison Arts Program works to positively and constructively change the lives of people incarcerated as well as improve the overall prison environment. Prevailing stereotypes, both in prison and in the outside community, often lead to incarcerated individuals feeling hopeless and reverting to inaction. Our program works to combat those stereotypes. We work to affirm and demonstrate that those capable of the worst are also capable of the best.

First initiated in 1978, Prison Arts works inside CT prisons by encouraging:

  • Creativity
  • Self-discipline
  • Work ethic
  • Self-esteem
  • Technical and communication skill development
  • Thoughtfulness
  • Introspection
  • Critical thinking
  • Calm

In the program, participants are challenged to undertake projects that require rigorous effort, careful consideration, demanding critiques, and an open mind. The program’s success is demonstrated in many ways:

  • The Annual Show, presented since 1978
  • The Permanent Collection
  • Works on loan to galleries and museums across the country
  • Emulation of the program by State & Federal correctional institutions

The artwork created by artists within the program is often exceptional. Ongoing support and communication continues after artists return to their community after completing their sentence. An Alumni Artist show has been offered for more than a decade, and Correspondence Courses have also been developed for those outside of the CT prison system.

The Prison Arts Program has shown that the greatest value of the work lies in its ability to engender hope, create personal space, provide a widening perspective, foster connection between the incarcerated and loved ones, and elicit empathy – within and between the incarcerated, staff, and the world.

Benefiting The Community:
The Hartford Reentry Welcome Center

Working together with the CT Department of Correction, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, and the City of Hartford, Community Partners in Action conducted an in-depth study in 2017 to analyze the needs of people reentering society after incarceration. The results of the study informed the creation of a list of Best Practices in creating a new way of coordinating services across multiple agencies, cities, towns, and government agencies with the goal of reducing recidivism.

From this list of best practices, a collective impact methodology was developed. The best practices address cross-sector planning and complex partner relationships, all working towards the common purpose of providing the best support for a wide spectrum of individuals needing reentry services. For the Hartford Reentry Welcome Center, reducing recidivism was the ultimate goal for everyone reentering society.

During the planning for the Center, the long-term goal was to better-coordinate a more efficient process of connecting people who are newly released from prison or jail with the essential resources and services they need for successful reintegration. When this coordination is in place, the community benefits as much as the individual.

The Reentry Welcome Center opened in 2018 to great success. The partnership between The City of Hartford, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Connecticut Department of Correction, Greater Hartford Reentry Council, and 40+ community providers has been the key to the center’s impact. Other cities in Connecticut are incorporating our model into their own reentry centers. In fact, due to our model’s success, Community Partners in Action opened a second Reentry Welcome Center in Waterbury in 2021.

Advocating For Change:
The Connecticut Reentry Collaborative Policy Working Group

Executive Director Beth Hines is a member of the Connecticut Reentry Collaborative Policy Working Group. The Collaborative is made up of service providers and advocates from the ten reentry roundtables in the State of Connecticut, all working together to support and advocate for criminal justice policy reform.

The Collaborative’s Policy Work Group consolidates and coordinates legislative and policy priorities, and advocacy efforts of organizations and stakeholders working on behalf of returning citizens. The goal is to maximize the impact and achieve legislative improvements for the reentry community statewide so that men and women returning from prison have as much opportunity as any other Connecticut resident.

The Collaborative coordinates with community partners statewide, the Department of Correction, the Office of the Governor, and legislators at the Capitol to push for bold and lasting changes in the Connecticut criminal justice landscape.