Two state penal institutions have been closed in recent months; 21 correction supervisors have lost their jobs; and another institution will be shutting its doors soon. While all of these facts signal a smaller prison population statewide, the number of unsentenced inmates is climbing.
According to the CT Mirror, the number of inmates still facing criminal charges in Connecticut and jailed pending court dates has risen over the past three months. Since May, the number has climbed 8% to 3,632 in August. Despite this, the total number of all inmates (both sentenced and those yet to be sentenced) has continued to decline.
In most states if someone is not granted bail pending trial they are held at a county jail, separate from the population of sentenced inmates. Not so in Connecticut. Here, we throw them all together.
Although their numbers have risen in each of the past three months, the amount of unsentenced inmates in August of this year is actually down slightly from January and almost 12% lower than August of 2010. This paired with the declining general inmate population still has the state on track to close Enfield Correctional Institution by October and another either at the end of this fiscal year or beginning of the 2012-13 fiscal year.
Michael P. Lawlor, former state representative and head of the state's Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division says that the increase in unsentenced inmates is simply due to increased enforcement and seasonal changes. This population, he says, is particularly volatile and it's not unusual to see the numbers climb towards the end of summer. “For 10 years now it's been a real area of concern.”
There are a variety of reasons that other states keep their sentenced and pretrial inmates in separate facilities. Counties are largely held responsible for the costs of pre-sentence detainment in this way and those detainees are not subject to quite the same level of institutionalization as those who have already been tried and sentenced.
Connecticut isn't the only state closing prisons either. Many states are changing the way they do business in order to save money. With corrections accounting for a huge portion of the budget, it seems logical to find ways to slash this spending. By changing sentencing practices or releasing more inmates via parole, states can work to save money while chipping away at the out of control incarceration rates.
Whether you count yourself as a pretrial detainee or someone who believes they may be under investigation for a crime, I might be able to help. Contact me today to discuss your case and to potentially receive some valuable free legal advice.
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