Malloy espouses a ‘second chance’ for nonviolent offenders

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy Tuesday unveiled on Tuesday, Feb. 3, what he called “Second Chance Society” initiatives that would change Connecticut’s criminal justice system.

Speaking at Yale Law School, Mr. Malloy said the proposals are “designed to continue the progress being made in reducing the state’s dropping crime rate, which is currently at a 48-year low, as well as ensuring nonviolent offenders are being reintegrated into society and become productive members of Connecticut’s economy,” according to a press release.

Over the last four years, Mr. Malloy said, violent crime is down 36% and criminal arrests have decreased by nearly 28%. Violent crime in the state’s three largest cities has fallen 15% since 2008.

Citing that data, Mr. Malloy proposed action in five areas:

    Reclassifying certain nonviolent offenses;

    Eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug possession;

    Streamlining Connecticut’s parole system “to make it more efficient and effective;”

    Streamlining the state’s pardons system to give ex-offenders a better chance at employment;

    Creating real job and housing opportunities for ex-offenders.

“These initiatives build upon the progress we’ve made in recent years reducing crime rates across Connecticut. They will help break the cycle of crime and poverty that hurts too many families and communities,” Mr. Malloy said in a statement. “Make no mistake, a crime is a crime. Offenders should be held accountable and there should be punishment. But punishments for nonviolent offenses should not last a lifetime. They should not destroy a person’s hope for redemption or a better future. These initiatives will allow our law enforcement professionals and our courts to focus on serious crime and to better pursue and punish violent felons, putting them behind bars for longer sentences.”

Mr. Malloy said this comes as “a new, bipartisan national consensus is building behind a Second Chance Society in states across the country, including in Texas, Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama.”

The governor cited initiatives implemented during his first four years in office as having a strong impact on reducing the crime rate in the state. These include:

    Reforms to the juvenile justice system, working to close the school-to-prison pipeline;

    Restoration of the state’s crime lab to eliminate backlogs and restore it to best-in-the-nation status;

    Integration of federal, state, and local law enforcement into communities through community policing and programs such as Project Longevity;

    Removal of dangerous guns from the streets with gun buy backs, and approval of gun violence prevention legislation;

    Targeting violent offenders in communities and putting them away for longer sentences.

“Because of these policies, fewer innocent people have been victimized and violent offenders are serving more time in prison than ever before,” Mr. Malloy said. “But we can’t be a perpetually punitive society. We have to do better in Connecticut. We have to become a Second Chance Society where we don’t permanently punish nonviolent offenders, swelling our prisons and creating lifetime criminals out of people who made one mistake. Let’s focus on effective solutions that break the cycle of crime and make our communities safer.”

Mr. Malloy’s initiatives will be included in his legislative package of proposals for the 2015 session of the General Assembly. He said he will continue to roll out executive action furthering the goals of his Second Chance Society initiatives in the coming days and weeks.