About half of prisoners released in CT are convicted of more crimes within three years; half the state’s parolees have a serious drug problem, 60% are mentally ill, most have little work experience and so are not well prepared to support themselves honestly, and 18% lack housing, a problem sure to increase stress and worsen mental illness.
By Chris Powell
Connecticut is missing the most important point about the recent assault of state Rep. Maryam Khan as she departed a Muslim religious service at the XL Center in downtown Hartford.
Khan contends that the big issues here are whether the Hartford police and emergency responders treated her sensitively enough and whether there should have been more police protection at the service. (The police say there were three officers at the XL Center throughout the service and the attack happened a few minutes after it ended.)
But the most important aspect of the incident is something else — the background of the man charged in the attack, who was quickly seized and detained by brave bystanders.
That is, as Connecticut’s Hearst newspapers have reported, the man is a chronic offender who was convicted of assault in 2016, for which he received only a suspended sentence and probation, and convicted of larceny and breach of peace a decade ago, for which he served two months in jail then. He also has been charged with robbery and assault in New York and Washington, D.C. According to his lawyer, he is mentally ill.
Records like that are behind the boasts made by Governor Lamont and state legislators about having reduced the prison population. About half of prisoners released in Connecticut are convicted of more crimes within three years, half the state’s parolees have a serious drug problem, 60% are mentally ill, most have little work experience and so are not well prepared to support themselves honestly, and 18% lack housing, a problem sure to increase stress and worsen mental illness.
There is nothing new in the data, for “recidivism” is an old problem. Khan, a Democrat from Windsor, has been a member of the General Assembly for only a year, having won a special election in March 2022 and then election to a full term last November.
But as a member of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, she is well positioned to try to do something about the problem that violently confronted her the other day.
Since it is full of crime by repeat offenders, including gun crime, Connecticut needs an incorrigibility law, a law that keeps chronic offenders locked up, especially chronic offenders who are mentally ill. Khan could introduce such legislation and be a compelling witness for it — or she can just complain about the police who have to deal with chronic offenders.
Chris Powell has written about Connecticut government and politics for many years.