At the heart of the Malloy Administration's proposals to reform the state's criminal justice system is the governor's idea that nonviolent criminals should get a second chance, that conviction for possession of drugs should be a stain you can remove from your record, even with a pardon at some point.
Gov. Malloy heard no opposition from community leaders invited to speak to him in Hartford, where the "war on drugs" has left its mark.
"Now that it's seeped into suburban white communities, into the middle class, it's cut across all socioeconomic classes, people are waking up," said Rep. Edwin Vargas. "The governor has taken the bull by the horns."
Malloy's choice to lead the Department of Correction, Scott Semple, told the panel that with the prison population declining, one of the correctional centers will become a "community reintegration center" as soon as April.
It's part of the governor's intention to teach inmates skills they can use in jobs and to make those jobs easier for them to get when they leave state prison. But another part is to keep nonviolent criminals out of prison.
"That means we have a judicial system that could pay attention to the things that are really important, the violent crimes and more serious crimes," said Gov. Malloy.
"Now I think it's time that we get away from treating simple possession as a felony," he said.
In the morning, Malloy is to take his package of proposals to sympathetic ears in Bridgeport.