Criminal Justice Reform in Connecticut

Problem

In the early 1990’s, Connecticut adopted punitive policies that were “tough on crime” and aimed to attain “truth in sentencing.” By 1995-1996, the state saw a huge spike in incarceration rates, due mostly in part to the tough on crime policies. These policies didn’t help its criminal justice system or reduce recidivism -- they did the opposite.

Solution

Connecticut realized that their criminal justice system needed some Connecticut started to reform its “tough on crime” policies starting in 2014 by shortening the length of sentences for certain juvenile crimes. Since then, Connecticut has made several other reforms that include:

  • Eliminating mandatory minimums for low-level drug offenses (2015);
  • Banning the box referring to criminal history in employment applications (2018)
  • Providing free feminine hygiene products to female inmates; establishing privacy-related parameters for staff of the opposite sex regarding female inspections; and strengthening visitation policies for all prisoners with children under age 18 (2018);
  • Raising the age of the juvenile justice system’s jurisdiction up to age 21 (2018); and
  • Prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, public education, insurance and government programs services based on criminal history (2019).

These reforms seal criminal records and enable ex-offenders to get jobs, eliminate unnecessarily long prison sentences for low-level offenses, respect the dignity of incarcerated women, and enable ex-offenders to have an easier time reentering society without discrimination. These policies are great steps that Connecticut has taken that should not just save the state tax payer dollars, but also create safer communities.

Identification of legislation should not be considered an endorsement of support of, or opposition to, such bills.