James Greene, A Force in Criminal Justice Reform

Attorney James Greene, 1944-2021
(Photo Credit: Hartford Courant, Jan. 2021)

It is with great sadness that we share the passing of Attorney James Greene, a former Program Director for CPA in the 1970s and 80s. During the years when we still were called the Connecticut Prison Association, Jim was a pioneer in the development of community-based programs for people involved in the criminal justice system, with an emphasis on community service and “giving something back”. The concept of Community Service was one of Jim’s most creative ideas and it generated significant community support. Jim was recognized for this work by the United States Department of Justice as “innovative and effective”.

Jim’s vision was to improve the quality of life for people who were incarcerated, which aligned perfectly the mission of CPA. In the 1970s, Jim began and led the agency’s Legal Assistance to Prisoners Program – LAP – which offered help to indigent prisoners throughout Connecticut.

In 1986, Jim traveled to England to observe a model program that provided intensive supervision for the incarcerated and he believed the model could be well adapted to CT. Within several months of his return, Jim developed a program concept called the Alternative Incarceration Center, now referred to as Alternative in the Community or AIC. Jim implemented the AIC in Hartford and played a significant role in launching the model statewide.

Here at CPA, we remember Jim fondly. Although it is now nearly 30 years since he left CPA, his legacy remains, and he will always be a testament to the agency’s belief that people can change, and every human being deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.

We remember his voice roaming the halls at our Wyllys Street location in Hartford’s South End singing Sinatra songs. On one occasion, he and CPA’s “now” Executive Director, Beth Hines, challenged each other in a tennis dual at Trinity College, joined by fans comprised of CPA staff and the residents living in our Transitional House and Substance Abuse Program. It was a great time for all, and Jim of course won!

In the early 1990s when Jim departed CPA, he continued his vision to improve the quality of life for the incarcerated by joining the CT Judicial Branch – Court Support Services Division, where he could have an even broader impact. He is credited with implementing special community service projects to expose thousands of court-involved youth to unique “giving back” experiences that enhanced the quality of life for Connecticut residents. 

CPA remains indebted to Jim’s legacy and enormous contributions to criminal justice reform both in Connecticut and nationally. It is no exaggeration to say that Jim Greene’s contributions to justice reform have positively impacted tens of thousands of lives.

You can learn more about James Greene in his obituary published in the Hartford Courant on Jan. 25, 2021.