Connecticut saw the second-largest drop in the violent crime incidences of any state in the country last year, even as crime rose roughly 4 percent nationally.
In the state, the number of violent crimes committed dropped by 8.5 percent in 2015, according to statistics released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Sept. 26. The rate of violent crimes -— which includes murder, non-negligible manslaughter, rape, robbery or aggravated assault — is now among the lowest it has been since 1974, with the overall crime rate at lows not seen since 1967. Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a Sept. 26 press release that these statistics, which reflect the third consecutive yearly drop in violent crime for Connecticut, are a testament to the state’s criminal-justice policies, such as initiatives to better handle the inmate population and to reduce the chances of recidivism.
“We’re being smart on crime and transforming our criminal justice system — and it’s working,” Malloy said in the press release. “The prison population is at a 20-year low and the number of people aged 18–21 entering our criminal justice system has fallen by more than 50 percent since 2008 — a predictor of a further drop in crime and imprisonment rate in the years to come.”
The overall decrease of 8.5 percent in 2015 includes a 2.6 percent decrease in rape, an 8.8 percent decrease in robberies and a 10.1 percent decrease in aggravated assaults. Looking across the nation, Connecticut is one of the nine states to experience a drop in violent crime over the last year.
In the past year, state and local police as well as public-safety officials and community advocates have increasingly coordinated their enforcement efforts, Malloy added.
In 2015, the governor also signed the “Second Chance Society” legislation into law, which reduced sentences for relatively minor offenses with the intention of ending the cycle of crime and poverty. The legislation also reduced the penalty for drug possession from a minimum seven-year sentence to a maximum of one year in jail. The state also began to convert former prisons into reintegration centers to help inmates succeed in society after prison.
According to the FBI data, young adults account for a big part in the crime reduction. Data shows that the number of arrests of 18- to 21-year-olds is down by more than 50 percent across the state since 2008.
From 2010 to 2015, the decline in the state’s violent crime is even more visible, declining 22 percent from roughly 10,000 to 7,800 incidences, according to the FBI report.
These drops in crime rate may also have an impact on how connected different people in a community feel, according to a report on the Greater New Haven area provided to the News by Mark Abraham ’04, executive director of DataHaven.
“Community cohesion — the degree to which residents feel connected, included and invested in where they live — is linked to higher individual well-being as well as less crime and improved public health,” the report said.
Still, Connecticut’s drop in violent-crime rate does not reflect a national trend. The FBI crime data show an estimate of 15,696 murders and non-negligent manslaughters in the country in 2015, a 10.8 percent increase from the year before.
However, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, speaking in Arkansas Sept. 26, said these numbers should be taken in context.
“It is important to remember that while crime did increase overall last year, 2015 still represented the third-lowest year for violent crime in the past two decades.”