Gov. Dannel Malloy fired back at accusations that his administration is responsible for any kind of spike or jump in violent crimes by people who were released early from state prisons.
A spokesman for the governor said Meriden Republican Senator Len Suzio was peddling, “alternative facts,” in order to bolster his position in an election year.
During a press conference Tuesday at the Legislative Office Building, Suzio said he identified 14,008 violent crimes committed from October 2011 to June of 2018 by people who were released early from prison.
Suzio, who is running for reelection in November, said he received the information on crimes committed by prisoners who were granted early release through a Freedom of Information Act request submitted to the Connecticut Department of Correction.
He said he took it upon himself to go through the file to identify violent crimes committed by those released early. Suzio described his findings as, “shocking.”
According to Suzio’s analysis, he discovered 319 murders and rapes, in addition to 775 inmates who were charged with crimes against a child.
“How much proof do we need that this law is a catastrophic failure and a betrayal on the people of Connecticut by the Malloy administration?” Suzio asked. “I’m advocating the immediate suspension of the program because with a huge number of violent crimes being committed each and every day, every day that passes we’re talking another six or so violent crimes being committed.”
Suzio’s data collection and analysis, when viewed in a vacuum, looks bad, but the broader picture of crime in Connecticut far more positive on the whole.
While Suzio claims to have identified more than 14,000 violent crimes over a roughly seven year period, that same period saw a decline in overall violent crime by a wide margin. From 2011 to 2017 there were 61,887 violent crimes reported in Connecticut, according to state and federal records. And from 2005 there were 72,802 reported violent crimes. That drop shows Connecticut residents were at lower risk for violent crime than previously.
In addition, the number of arrests has been halved since 2003. Malloy took office in 2010. In 2003 there were 136,137 arrests reported for all crimes. The estimate for 2018 is that there will be somewhere in the range of 76,000 arrests.
The picture on recidivism, previous offenders committing crimes and returning to prison, is also more positive than Suzio suggests.
The year many Malloy criminal justice policies took effect, in 2011, a spokesman for Malloy wrote, 4,403 inmates returned to prison who were released. Three years later, in 2014, the number was down to 3,840 inmates who were arrested and then returned to prison.
Malloy’s spokesman Leigh Appleby wrote, There is no disputing that Connecticut is safer today than when Governor Malloy took office. That is an objective fact, backed up by FBI data. Senator Suzio’s end game would see more people – mostly people of color – locked up for longer periods of time, and our state would only be less safe. Today’s press conference was an embarrassment.”
Suzio argues past data is not relevant when looking at those who keep committing crimes.
“If you think the state of Connecticut is safer because of your administration and the laws that you’ve enacted, then go tell it to the 14,008 victims of violent crimes that have been committed by prisoners who were released early because of your notorious and catastrophic early release law.”
When asked whether there is only so much the system can do to prevent bad people from doing bad things, Suzio acknowledged there is no perfect formula to reducing crime.
“There are some people who are incorrigible and there are some people who can be reformed," he said.