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Advancing Criminal Justice Reform in CT

In 2018, Connecticut reported the lowest crime rate in 50 years. (ErikaWittlieb/Pixabay)
In 2018, Connecticut reported the lowest crime rate in 50 years. (ErikaWittlieb/Pixabay)
January 18, 2019

HARTFORD, Conn. – Bills to end discrimination against people who've been arrested and to promote transparency in prosecutors' offices are top priorities for criminal justice reform advocates in Connecticut this year.

With a new governor and 41 new state lawmakers, the advocacy groups outlined their legislative priorities at a news conference in Hartford on Wednesday.

According to Sandy LoMonico, criminal justice field organizer with the ACLU's Campaign for Smart Justice, people in Connecticut who've been arrested or convicted face obstacles to housing, employment, credit and many other everyday necessities – making it difficult to reintegrate into society and support families.

"We want to address and reduce collateral consequences that are imposed on people living with a criminal record, and this will hopefully combat those 600 legal barriers faced by Connecticut residents with a criminal record," said LoMonico.

The campaign is also calling for legislation to bring transparency to data from prosecutors in the state, including demographics, sentencing and diversionary programs.

LoMonico said access to that sort of data can help people know what they face when they have to deal with the criminal justice system.

"A lot of Connecticut residents don't know how the prosecutor's office works, and it is the kind of entry system for folks to get into the justice system," said LoMonico.

Last year, Connecticut incarcerated the fewest people in 24 years and reported the lowest crime rate in 50 years. LoMonico noted the state is making progress toward ending mass incarceration.

"It doesn't make sense to spend money on a system that doesn't rehabilitate, heal or prepare people for returning to society. We need to continue to lead the nation, but there's more work to do," said LoMonico.

A poll conducted during last year's gubernatorial election showed a majority of Connecticut voters believe it is important to reduce the number of people in prisons in the state.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT