Keeping incarceration rates down


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Incarceration rates are spiking all over the country, which is bad news for everyone. But one expert has some tips on how we can keep the prison population down in Connecticut.

Highly respected in the law enforcement, Jeremy Travis is President of John Jay College in New York. He presented the findings of “cause and consequence of the high incarceration rates” to the Connecticut Sentencing Commission. Over the past 40 years, the number of inmates in the system has quadrupled. He suggests this is hurting America and Connecticut. Professor William Carbone from the University of New Haven liked what he heard.

“I think he really gave the state some excellent recommendations on how it could both insure Public Safety and at the same time reduce the prison population in the short-term,” said Carbone.

It becomes about the balance between cost verses safety verses rehabilitation. The Commissioner of Corrections, Scott Semple met Travis in Berlin at a conference on how to reduce incarceration. He says the Germans were able to cut the number of inmates successfully.

“Connecticut has a very similar senses to the city of Berlin, 3.6 million. Berlin incarcerates 4,000, we incarcerate just under 16,004 times greater. So, I am all in and interested to see how we can impact that,” said Semple.

One of the things discussed at length be mandatory minimum sentence and not only reducing sentences, but not letting them into the system in the first place, if they can help it. Travis says once they get into the system today, even if it’s only for a day, it can have detrimental effects on their employment.

“It’s hard to keep a job even if you been in jail overnight. Much less in prison for a couple of years and after you come out it’s hard to find a job if you have a felony record that immediately disqualifies you from many sectors of the labor market.”

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