While criminal justice reform has gained mainstream, bipartisan acceptance over the past few years, the system remains a tangle of overlapping issues—racial disparities in sentencing, felon disenfranchisement, and disproportionate rates of mental illness in prisoners, for example. As of 2014, Connecticut had 326 people sentenced to state prisons for every 100,000 residents, and 35 women for every 100,000 female residents; this rate of female incarceration is just over half of that nationwide. Yet, American incarceration is so extreme that Connecticut’s relatively low rates are still higher than those of most medium- and large-sized countries in the world for both incarceration in general and incarceration of women.
This week, jaw-dropping footage of three Connecticut state police officers appearing to fabricate criminal charges against a protester made international news. Meanwhile, two families lost loved ones to police violence in Oklahoma and North Carolina. Each of these incidents was caught on video. All have inspired outrage from people around the world. It still might not be enough to ensure justice—and that should frighten all of us.
In his decision on Wednesday in Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) v. Rell, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher made a lengthy, wide-ranging ruling on education and equity in our state. At the heart of Judge Moukawsher’s historic ruling is the affirmation of what educators, parents, students, and community leaders have been saying for nearly four decades—Connecticut’s school finance system is irrational, inequitable, and illogical. We can now add unconstitutional to that list.
Nearly all of the ways that the judicial system serves justice are unfair, and it is the poor, underprivileged citizens who are suffering.
According to NAACP.org, “African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million people incarcerated population. African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites.” Seeing those statistics, I can’t help assume that the justice system seems to have a bias that black people are all the same: that they’re all agitators of civilization. This bias isn’t the truth and is displayed by many African Americans including 17-year-old Aymir Holland.
Does someone have to get hurt before our state stands up for what’s right? UConn Health Center appropriately fired an individual who put the public at risk by getting high while working a job that involves driving a state vehicle and operating motorized equipment. But following an arbitration ruling in support of the employee’s case, the Connecticut Supreme Court upheld the arbiter’s finding instructing UConn Health to rehire the employee who got high on state time in a state vehicle.
Secret backroom deals, it has been proved time and time again, may be good for the deal-makers, but they are terrible for taxpayers. Yet, despite the debacle of the Hartford stadium dominating the news — a deal that was done in secret, with no public input — officials from the Connecticut Airport Authority, the town of Windsor Locks and MMCT (the joint venture of the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribes) spent much of the past year hatching a secret plan to transform Bradley International Airport into a mega-casino.
The League of Women Voters of Connecticut takes seriously its role of looking out for the integrity of the voting and electoral process. We naturally became concerned when catastrophic budget cuts were proposed for the State Elections Enforcement Commission, the elections watchdog agency set up in the wake of the Rowland scandal and charged with the authority to protect the integrity of the electoral process.
Our new brothers Dr. Jeffrey Cohen and Ted Hakey Jr., a former marine, are thrilled to join this year’s Jalsa Salana USA alongside myself, Dr. Mohammed Qureshi, our families, and the entire Ahmadiyya Muslim Community CT from Baitul Aman “House of Peace” Mosque in Meriden. In a world exuding hatred, strife, and bloodshed, we sorely look forward to being a part of another moving demonstration “love for all, hatred for none,” and hope to bring that promising remedy to the rest of Connecticut.
The CTMirror story Juvenile Justice in CT: “What’s left after all the cuts” rings loudly in the ears of those of us working in the deep end of the system. The Connecticut Juvenile Training School, and the Walter G. Cady School educational component have been forced to operate with insufficient programming for the youth both within and outside the facility.
With the recent tragedies in Orlando, Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas, this is a sad time for our nation and each and every one of its residents. It highlights in so many ways the worst of our instincts and policy failures –- lack of understanding, tolerance and acceptance as equals of the many groups that comprise this great nation; the ease with which weapons of war are obtained and used against both ordinary people and law enforcement officers; racial divisiveness, fear and fear-mongering promulgated by individuals, groups and mass media yearning for provocative messaging.
Over the last week, the nation has witnessed horror. The events have shocked our collective soul. They have been jolts to our conscience – both in Connecticut and across the country – that require a moment of mass reflection.
The the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) settled a long-running, high-profile case involving the Connecticut Democratic Party (CDP). Although the terms of the settlement are commendable in many respects–including imposing the largest election law violation fine (excuse me, “voluntary payment”) in state history–the SEEC exercised poor judgment in deciding to settle the case. Rightly or wrongly, justly or unjustly, the settlement creates the appearance that a major political party in Connecticut can “buy” its way out of an embarrassing investigation by the chief regulator of our state campaign finance laws.