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ACLU poll: Prison not the only answer to crime

September 25, 2018

Most Connecticut voters support reducing the state’s prison population and boosting rehabilitation and reintegration criminal justice efforts, a new poll shows.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut hired Benenson Strategies Group to conduct a telephone poll of 507 likely Connecticut voters from September 5 to 10.

According to the poll results released Tuesday, 72 percent of Connecticut voters agree that prison is not the only answer to crime. An even higher number — 82 percent — believe criminals can turn their lives around with help.

“(The) poll shows that Connecticut voters reject the failed, so-called ‘tough on crime’ policies of the 1990s and instead support reducing the prison population, investing in rehabilitation, and creating policies like anti-discrimination protections for formerly incarcerated people,” said David McGuire, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut.

The poll was released one day after Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced that reported crime in Connecticut is at its lowest level since 1967.

Malloy has made criminal justice reform one of his signature issues, leading the state to modernize criminal drug laws, reform the bail system to focus less on a person’s affluence, raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction, enhance the state’s criminal justice data system, provide more support to school districts to encourage students to stay away from criminal situations and implemented policies that providing incarcerated individuals with the tools necessary to end a cycle of crime.

The poll showed that 86 percent of voters support the state’s Risk Reduction Earned Credit Program, which allows prisoners to earn time off their prison sentences for good behavior. The program has been strongly criticized by some Republicans who say the prisoners re-offend once released.

Nearly 90 percent of the poll’s respondents also supported increasing funding for programs that help former inmates find jobs and housing. Seventy-four percent favored passed a law forbidding housing, education, employment and insurance discrimination of previously incarcerated people on the basis of their criminal record.

The majority of respondents saw racial bias in the criminal justice system.

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