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Opinion: A second chance for all of us

Susan Bigelow
Susan Bigelow

Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced a series of criminal justice reform proposals this week that he was calling “Second Chance Society.” The name comes from the idea that his proposals will give a second chance to people who might have found themselves in prison for minor offenses, but really these proposals, and the door they open, give that chance to everyone else as well.

Here’s the quick rundown of the proposed changes: first, drug offenses will be reclassified, and possession/use will be a misdemeanor. Second, non-violent drug possession will have no more mandatory minimums. Third, parole hearings and pardons will be streamlined, and fourth, re-entry programs for people returning to the community from prison will be strengthened.

This may not sound like much, but it’s huge.

See the complete story at CT News Junkie.

Comments

One response to “Opinion: A second chance for all of us”

  1. Oldtimer

    Sounds good, but the devil will be in the details. Drug possession crimes could well result in misdemeanor treatment or felony sentences suspended and paroled with the clear understanding that any drug offense during the parole period would result in serious prison time. Drug dealer crime, possession with intent to sell, or proven sales, should result in long term felony sentencing. All prison sentences, for any crime, should require some level of educational achievement while incarcerated with parole being triggered by such achievement and job placement assisted by parole department. Prison records, even for first time conviction, are only a real problem for poorly qualified parolees searching for jobs on their own. If prison included mandatory education accomplishment as part of a sentence most parolees could re-enter society seamlessly and a bill clearing first conviction records after a set time of legitimate employment, with no further violations, is a no-brainer benefit for all.

    Some offenses, most sex offenses, are clear indications of mental illness for which no successful treatment has been developed and there is no evidence of any society benefit to be gained by lessor sentences or clearing records of first convictions.

    With the cost of incarceration, anything that reduces the numbers and duration of incarceration, especially mandatory appropriate schooling and job placement for prison trained craftsmen sounds like a win-win for society and for convicts. More money will be spent in prisons on education, but time in prison will be shorter. Supply of mature trade school equivalent graduates would help fill the declining ranks of skilled carpenters, plumbers, electricians, etc.

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