FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Gov. Dannel Malloy said Thursday that, following the adoption of his Second Chance Society bill last year, the number of people incarcerated in Connecticut for drug possession has been reduced by 39 percent.
The bill, which took effect in October, was designed to continue the progress being made in further reducing the state’s decreasing crime rate, as well as ensuring nonviolent offenders successfully reintegrate into society and become productive workers in Connecticut’s economy. Among other things, it reduced the penalty for possession of drugs from a felony with a seven-year maximum sentence to a misdemeanor with a maximum of one year in jail.
“We can truly be tough on crime by being smart on crime, and that includes creating a system that focuses on permanent reform, not permanent punishment,” Malloy said in a press release. “Across the nation, both Republicans and Democrats are changing their approach to crime reduction toward strategies that are showing successful outcomes. We must do away with the failed policies of the past that plague so many of our communities and move towards reforms that end the cycle of poverty, crime, and prison.”
On the day of the bill’s effective date, there were 510 people in Connecticut prisons for simple drug possession, according to a press release. Today, that number is 311, the release said.
In addition, the number of people incarcerated in Connecticut prions is approaching a 19-year low. Today, the state’s total prison population is 15,195, down from 16,084 around this same time last year – a reduction of more than 5 percent.
“The Connecticut NAACP is pleased with the initial results of the Second Chance legislation and will continue to support Governor Malloy in his comprehensive review and reform of the criminal justice system. Fewer drug related arrests and fewer nonviolent, low-level convictions have resulted in a significant drop in incarceration rates,” NAACP Connecticut President Scot Esdaile said in a press release.
“The cruel and unjust drug policies of the past disproportionately tore apart minority and low-income families and communities," American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut Interim Executive Director David McGuire said in a press release. "Today, because of the Second Chance Society’s reforms, Connecticut has decreased racial disparities in our prisons and is closer to righting the wrongs of the past. This new data shows that Connecticut is on its way toward creating a 21st century justice system. We hope that this drop in the state’s prison population will serve as inspiration and encouragement for policymakers to keep moving forward with compassionate, commonsense justice reforms.”