© 2023 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Pew Study: Increase In CT "Punishment Rate" One of Highest In Nation

Matthias Müller

A national study by the Pew Charitable Trusts reveals that the rate at which Connecticut punishes people convicted of crimes has more than tripled over the last 30 years. That’s one of the sharpest increases in the nation.

The study compared three decades of statewide crime numbers, and three decades of incarceration rates in all 50 states. In Connecticut crime has dropped over the last 30 years. Incarceration rates haven’t, although they’ve been dropping for the past few years.

Adam Gelb is the author of the study. Gelb says that disparity between crime and punishment can show when a state is imprisoning more people than is really necessary.

“The question is whether we are maximizing public safety, or whether we are punishing for punishment’s sake. And these numbers show that in Connecticut in particular, the state has been punishing more and more but getting less and less crime reduction for it,” Gelb said.

Since 1983, only two states have increased the rate at which they punish people more than Connecticut has. Those states are Colorado and Idaho. Michael Lawlor, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy’s criminal justice advisor, says this study shows the state isn’t soft on crime.

“Actually, compared to other states, we’re actually very tough, and we always have been. If you’re sentenced for a violent crime in Connecticut, you will serve much more of that sentence in prison than you would in almost any other state.”

Lawlor also says Malloy’s Second Chance Society reforms will make sure the state doesn’t imprison people, like non-violent offenders, who don’t need to be there. Last year Malloy signed a bill that reduced penalties for some drug offenses and created a jobs program for ex-convicts. This year Malloy’s pushing a new package. It would eliminate the practice of setting bail for people in jail on misdemeanor charges, and it would have 18 to 20-year olds tried as juveniles instead of as adults.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.