• Crime And Punishment In Connecticut

    August 22, 2023
    Justice — Old State House

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    “The more things change,” the French say, “the more they remain the same”: “Plus ça change, plus c'est la meme chose.”

    That is true of all one-party states. It is also true in Connecticut’s urban areas where, over a long period of time, the political opposition has been effectively suppressed.

    On the crime and murder front in Hartford, Connecticut, the state’s Capital, both the murder rate and the nature of the murders, have changed since the last Republican mayor of the city, Ann Uccello, surrendered her post to Democrats a little more than a half century ago. A succession of Democrat mayors and Democrat town councils dramatically illustrates the old French bromide.

    For a half century, murders have become more frequent in the Capital city, and it is not likely that U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal’s war on “ghost guns” will greatly affect the murder rate in Hartford.

    Republicans last held the mayoralty of Bridgeport, the state’s most populous city, in 1991. There the murder rate is also soaring, this despite Connecticut’s aggressive attempts to regulate the gun industry.

    Most of the larger cities in Connecticut have been Democrat preserves for decades. The Democrat politicians change, but Democrat policies in the cities remain ever the same. Indeed, most large cities in Connecticut are Democrat Party satrapies.

    Beginning at the beginning, we know that criminal retention and swift but just prosecution deter crime – not police investigations and apprehensions. The notion that arrests deter crime is, even criminals know, a public fiction useful only to criminals and politicians.

    “The crime rate in Hartford,” according to Neighborhood Scout, “is considerably higher than the national average across all communities in America from the largest to the smallest… Relative to Connecticut, Hartford has a crime rate that is higher than 89% of the state’s cities and towns of all sizes… From our analysis, we discovered that violent crime in Hartford occurs at a rate higher than in most communities of all population sizes in America. The chance that a person will become a victim of a violent crime in Hartford; such as armed robbery, aggravated assault, rape or murder; is 1 in 208. This equates to a rate of 5 per one thousand inhabitants.”

    Within every crime, there are victims and predators. Statistics, while important to statisticians and politicians on the campaign trail, muffle real crimes in tendentious data. Figures are less important than blood on the street and, in the case of crimes, the individual trees are more important than the poorly perceived forest.

    The easiest way to reduce crime rates – not crime itself – is through the non-prosecution of crime. And the legalization of crime is a boon only to politicians and prison wardens who rejoice at the prospect of fewer criminals entering prison.

    A crime rate may be reduced because the court system is down, as occurred during the late pandemic, or because police department personnel have been sharply reduced, or because prosecutors decline to prosecute cases.

    A new Connecticut law that withdraws partial immunity from police and permits suits in which the personal assets of arresting officers may be seized in legal proceedings has unsurprisingly reduced police recruitment – whether or not the law is applied in specific instances. The unintended consequences of the law – particularly a reduction of officers in high crime areas of the state, mostly cities – affect most often those who most need increased police protection.

    The victims of urban crimes tend to flee cities, if possible, and migrate to areas of the state where shootouts among young criminals are less frequent, but they are not alone. Those who protect the most vulnerable among us also flee when circumstances warrant flight. What police officer in the state would not rather work in Greenwich or New Canaan rather than crime infested Hartford, particularly when Connecticut law provides that the personal assets of individual police officers may be seized if they make an arrest that will not pass muster with those who have created the new law, always on the prowl, rightly so, for infrequent instances of police misconduct?

    Repeat offender Chan Williams-Bey, 27, was released on $2.1 million in bonds and had 24 pending criminal and motor vehicle cases in multiple judicial jurisdictions when he allegedly mowed down two people at a Hartford gas station. This has “angered” Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin. “Why was the alleged shooter – who has multiple pending cases with violent offenses -- out on the street?” asked the mayor. “This is an avoidable tragedy, and this situation cries out for systemic reforms.”

    The “alleged” murder was not a tragedy but a murder. Perhaps systemic reform might begin with politicians and news reporters naming things correctly.

    A Middletown police officer was brutally assaulted recently with a claw hammer before she was able to subdue her attacker with her firearm. The attacker, according to a Hartford paper, “has an extensive criminal history with multiple convictions for carrying a deadly weapon, harassment and robbery, and has been convicted of previous assaults on officers…”

    Urban criminals, sad to say, have read the times correctly. They know that proposed gun bans and convictions in Connecticut long delayed or muted by a perverse refusal to apply recondite punishments is, in their cases, a crapshoot they can win.

    And that is a tragedy.

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    Don Pesci

    Don Pesci is a political columnist of long standing, about 40 years, who has written for various state newspapers, among them The Journal Inquirer, the Waterbury Republican American, the New London Day, the Litchfield County Times, the Torrington Register Citizen and other Register Citizen papers. He maintains a blog, among the oldest of its kind in Connecticut, which serves as a repository and archive, for his columns; there are approximately 3,000 entrees in Connecticut Commentary: Red Notes From A Blue State, virtually all of them political columns stretching back to 2004. He also appears once a week Wednesdays on 1080 WTIC Newstalk radio with Will Marotti.

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