That shows the disparities may be more between the rich and the poor, said state Rep. Mike Lawlor, D-East Haven, co-chairman of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee.
Connecticut’s white population is unusually rich, meaning more white offenders can afford the best attorneys and avoid prison than minority defendants, Lawlor said.
Uh, what? Rep. Lawlor, in case you didn’t know, your state (my state, our state) has one of the best public defender systems in the country. I would rather be represented by a public defender in this state. Please, do not disparage the brilliant attorneys working for our division so. Them’s fightin’ words – and a little heartbreaking
You want to know another reason why the racial disparity is such? Because we classify non-violent drug offenders are violent based on their past history and keep them in jail longer.
That’s not to say CT hasn’t taken steps:
The legislature in 2005 increased the amount of crack cocaine a person must carry to be charged with planning to sell drugs. A commission of legislators, officials and policy experts is studying sentencing reform, including possibly changing the state’s mandatory minimum drug laws.
Nearly two-thirds of defendants charged with mandatory minimum drug crimes are black or Hispanic, state statistics show.
“The overrepresentation of people of color in our correctional institutions has long been of great concern to me,” Correction Commissioner Theresa Lantz said. “While I can’t control who is placed in my custody, I strive to address literacy, employment skills, sobriety and housing during incarceration, so that these individuals are prepared for a productive re-entry to their communities.”
Sentencing disparities anyone?