Blog: Crime & Public Safety

Crime & Public Safety

National Drop in Violent Crime Passes CT By

  • Mar 26, 2014
  • by Ben Zimmer
National Drop in Violent Crime Passes CT By

Governor Malloy’s senior criminal justice advisor, Michael P. Lawlor, testified before the legislature’s judiciary committee on Friday about a new report on state crime trends.  His testimony focused on several positive statistics in the report, including a 5-year drop in overall crime rates.  Left unspoken was that this reduction did not reflect a drop in violent crime.

The chart below, which is taken directly from the report, shows that violent crime in Connecticut has remained relatively stable over the last ten years in spite of a nationwide decline.  The chart also shows that Connecticut’s violent crime rate has actually increased since 2010. 

Violent crime rates in Connecticut as a whole remain below the national average.  But violent crime in Connecticut’s cities exceeds crime rates in urban areas elsewhere in the country and has remained stubbornly high.  For more on urban crime in Connecticut, including recommendations to reduce and prevent crime, see this recently released CPI policy paper.   

About the Author: Ben Zimmer is the CPI's Executive Director

Healthcare, Crime & Public Safety, Regulation

CT Government Weekly Rundown -- October 28

  • Oct 28, 2013
CT Government Weekly Rundown -- October 28

Access Health Rollout Presents Some Cause for Celebration, Some Cause for Concern

As the federal Affordable Care Act healthcare exchange website faces increasing bipartisan criticism for its technical shortcomings, the independent firm Health Pocket has praised Connecticut’s exchange website for its ease of use.  Connecticut has not been completely unaffected by technical issues at the federal level, however, as outages in the federal data services hub this weekend have interfered with enrollment on Connecticut’s exchange, known as Access Health.

In spite of the relatively smooth technical rollout of Connecticut’s exchange, the early enrollment data presents some cause for concern.  Most of the early customers were ages 55 to 64, and, among enrollees under 35 the majority are enrolled in Medicaid coverage.   The private insurance plans offered on the exchanges will only be viable over the long-term if younger people enroll.  Younger participants on the exchanges pay relatively higher premiums than older participants given the amount of healthcare they generally consume.  It remains very early in the enrollment process, but if the current patterns continue, the private insurers will face pressure to raise premiums or leave the exchange.  

What It Means for You: Connecticut’s health exchange leadership deserves credit for overseeing a relatively smooth technical launch.  But the long-term success of the exchange remains up in the air.

State Legislature May Consider New Nightclub Regulations Following New Haven Club Shootings

Following a shooting this weekend at the Key Club nightclub in New Haven, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano has called for a series of new safety regulations at nightclubs.  Many of his proposals would require state legislative action, including allowing cities to levy fees for nightclubs in a district where heavy police presence is required and mandating that private security at nightclubs be licensed and trained by local Police Departments.

What it Means For You: Governor Malloy has said he will work with the legislature during the upcoming 2014 session to pass some of the Mayor’s proposals, though previous attempts to pass similar nightclub regulations have not been successful.

Jobs & the Economy, Taxes & Government Spending, Education, Crime & Public Safety

CT Government Weekly Rundown -- September 23

  • Sep 23, 2013
  • by Alexandra Forrester
CT Government Weekly Rundown -- September 23

August 2013 Jobs Data Shows CT Continuing to Lag USA in Job Growth
The Department of Labor this week released the August results of its monthly employment surveys of Connecticut employers and residents.  The employer survey showed the state’s “nonfarm payrolls” decreasing by 6,000.  However, this comes on the heals of an abnormally large gain of 11,500 that the survey reported for July.   Both the large gain in July and large loss in August reflect month-to-month volatility – the overall trend in the employment survey remains one of slow but steady growth.  The Department’s monthly survey of Connecticut households showed the number of Connecticut “residents employed” decreasing by 1,400, continuing a trend over the last few years.

The most useful way to understand jobs numbers is to not read too heavily into any one report, but rather to look at longer term year-over-year trends.  It is also useful to compare Connecticut’s job performance to the rest of the country, as that helps isolate state-specific job trends. 

From August 2012 to August 2013 Connecticut’s “nonfarm payrolls” grew by 15,400, or 0.94%.  During the same period, US nonfarm payrolls grew by 1.65%, nearly twice Connecticut’s rate.  From August 2012 to August 2013, the number of Connecticut “residents employed”  fell by 14,700, a 0.86% reduction.  During the same period, the number of US residents employed grew by 1.41%. 

What It Means For You: The Department of Labor’s two employment surveys paint slightly different pictures of the state’s job performance.  But even if you go exclusively by the employer survey – which paints the more favorable picture of the two – the state’s jobs performance remains worse than that of the US as a whole.

State Sued for Allegedly Skimping on Education FundingOn September 16, the Connecticut Supreme Court heard the state’s case to dismiss a nine-year-old suit accusing the government of shirking its state constitutional obligation to provide adequate education for all residents. The Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding began the suit in 2005—now the state is looking to dismiss the case in light of the recent education reforms. The CT attorney general argues that the 2012 education reforms and the 2013 changes to the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula satisfies the state’s constitutional requirements. Supporters of the suit disagree, stating that current funding for schools falls 763 million short of the ECS Formula.

A CPI paper on education reform released last week notes that the ECS program has been successful in eliminating overall inequality between poorer and wealthier districts  – the wealthiest twenty percent of districts in Connecticut now spend roughly the same per student as the poorest twenty percent of districts.  But in spite of the 2012 reforms and 2013 changes, the ECS program remains riddled with its own inequities and fails to incentivize the effective use of allocated funds.  The CPI paper argues Connecticut should replace ECS with a “money follows the child” student-based allocation model, weighted to the students’ needs.  In this model students “carry” their allotted per-pupil funding with them to whichever school they attend. The allotted amount per student should be based on a weighted student formula, which allocates more money for students whose education is more costly, such as those in extreme poverty, English Language Learners, and special education students. Several states and districts, including Rhode Island, San Francisco, and New York City have implemented per-pupil cost formulas that could be a model for Connecticut.

What it means for you: Spending more on education is never a bad thing, but the state also needs to change the structure of its education funding to make spending more effective.

State Announces Tax Amnesty Until November 15th
The state Department of Revenue Services announced on September 16th that it is offering a new tax amnesty program for the next 60 days. This program will allow businesses and residents to pay back-taxes with a 75 percent reduction in interest owed. The program is expected to bring in 35 million in revenue.

What it means for you: If you are one of the 80,000 taxpayers that owes the state money, now is a good time to pay. To encourage taxpayers to take advantage of this program, the state will increase the interest penalty it applies to delinquent taxes from 10 to 25 percent on any taxes still owed after the amnesty period ends.

State Grants $5 million to Improve School Security
Gov. Malloy announced on September 18th the first round of funding for increasing school security. The initiative, established in the state's recent gun control legislation, will provide $5 million in grants now and $15 million by the end of this calendar year.  The grants are awarded to municipalities, who must offer some amount of matching spending.

What it means for you: If your district is one of the 36 that successfully procured funding, you may see increased security measures within schools.  However, there are limitations on the uses of state funds. For instance, state funds cannot be used to hire armed guards, although municipalities can hire armed guards on their own if they wish.

About the Author: Alex Forrester is a policy analyst for the CPI

Crime & Public Safety, Environment

CT Government Weekly Rundown -- September 3

  • Sep 03, 2013
  • by Alexandra Forrester
CT Government Weekly Rundown -- September 3

DEEP Proposes Higher Energy Rates to Fund Efficiency Investments

Energy prices are on track to significantly rise for the next three years, pending Public Utilities Regulatory Authority approval of a new Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) program aimed at increasing energy efficiency. The DEEP proposal would increase Conservation Adjustment Management fees on energy bills, doubling the electricity fee to $4.50 per month and tripling the gas fee to $7 per month. The higher rates would be used to fund residential and commercial energy efficiency investments, such as rebates for the purchase of energy efficient home products and retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient.  Environmental organizations predict significant future returns from those investments, estimating that consumers and businesses currently lose $400 million annually in energy waste that would be mitigated by the program.

What it means for you: CT’s energy prices declined in the first few months of this year, but a recent report has shown that they are rising once again. The DEEP proposal will likely save consumers money in the long-term by reducing energy consumption, but these savings will come at a short-term cost with higher rates.  Connecticut already has some of the highest electricity rates in the northeast and the country.

Medical Marijuana Implementation Begins

This past Tuesday, August 27th, a Connecticut Review Committee approved regulations for the production, sale, and use, of medical marijuana within the state. These regulations specify implementation guidelines for the bill passed in May that legalized medical marijuana in Connecticut. Within the next two weeks Connecticut’s consumer protection agency will begin reviewing applications for producers and dispensaries, and licenses will be awarded by the beginning of next year. The new regulations limit Connecticut medical marijuana to licensed in-state producers and dispensaries and limit the number of licensed producers to between 3 and 10 and the number of dispensaries to between 3 and 5.  They also require application and licensing fees amounting to $3 million for producers, and $6,000 for dispensaries.Federal law still prohibits marijuana consumption for both recreational and medical uses, but the U.S. Department of Justice released a memo on Thursday announcing that it would not interfere with states that have legalized strictly regulated marijuana use.  The federal enforcement decision would not be binding on future administrations should they decide to more strictly enforce federal marijuana laws.

What it means for you: Connecticut residents with a valid prescription should be able to start purchasing medical marijuana sometime next year.  The limited number of producers and dispensaries combined with high licensing fees means medical marijuana in Connecticut is likely to be quite expensive.  The future of the industry beyond 2016 is also uncertain if federal enforcement policies change.

About the Author: Alexandra Forrester is a a CPI policy analyst.

Crime & Public Safety

Crime in CT: Some Good and Bad News

  • Feb 17, 2012
Crime in CT: Some Good and Bad News

The Office of Policy and Management just released a report revealing that almost 80% of the 14,400 inmates released in 2005 had been rearrested by 2010, and 50%  of those who had been rearrested had returned to prison for new sentences. The report did reveal some good news, however. In those five years, only 2.7% of the 746 sex-offenders released were convicted of another offense, and only 1.7% were sentenced to more prison time. This statistic challenges the conventional wisdom that sex offenders are unlikely to change their ways.

In other criminal justice news, a report by the Division of Criminal Justice Policy and Planning projects that Connecticut will have 400 fewer inmates in 2012 than it did in 2011. Undersecretary Michael Lawlor says that it is difficult to pinpoint the causes of this decrease, but that crime in the state is indeed at a 44-year low, just as it is in many other states across the country. Though other states have used this decrease as an opportunity to shutdown detention facilities, Connecticut will not be able to this year; almost 1,000 inmates are currently without beds in existing facilities.