Sentencing and Prison Reform

         In 2013, 2,220,300 people were incarcerated in state, local and federal prisons. That was approximately 716 people per 100,000 of population or about .716% of the United States population. According to Wikipedia, another 4,751,400 were on probation or on parole. Much of the increase in prison population came out of tougher sentencing laws enacted in the 1980s during the crack-cocaine epidemic. Our spending on prisons has increased at a much higher rate than increased education spending. This needs to change and has been changing more recently as states around the nation enact sentencing reforms. Complain as we might about Governor Dannel Malloy’s economic leadership of Connecticut, Governor Malloy has been a leader on sentencing and prison reform. He has done good work and continues to look where we can do better? He deserves our support for his leadership in this area.

         It is correct to ask whether sending non-violent offenders to prison for an extended period of time helps them as well as society? Does recidivism, the risk of returning to prison for new crimes, increase or decrease when non-violent offenders are in jail for longer periods of time? Governor Malloy is asking whether some young adults aged 21-25 should be treated as juveniles and separated from the general criminal justice system for lower levels of non-violent crime? This is a worthy endeavor to hear what the evidence points to? We do not wish to see young impressionable people necessarily come in contact with and be influenced by tough, violent criminals.

         Should a poor person or mentally challenged individual sit in jail awaiting trial because they cannot come up with a sufficient cash bond? Lest we forget, a person is innocent until proven guilty. The state has to pay for the care and nutrition of people in jail awaiting trial. In our depleted economic state, can Connecticut continue to warehouse non-violent offenders in prison? How much money can be saved by eliminating mandatory minimum sentencing for drug possession? If a conservative pundit, Grover Norquist, suggests we can save $19 million over two years and that he agrees with Governor Malloy, then that might be a worthwhile pursuit? Couldn’t that money be better used by the taxpayer, him or herself, or used for the education of our children?


                                                                                    Peter Thalheim,

Candidate for Governor

State of Connecticut

Maj. Ret., USAR JAG Corps