By CHRIS POWELL
Lately the Lamont administration has boasted about closing prisons in Connecticut even as crime has exploded. Of course the crime wave isn't exclusive to this state. But those in charge seem to think that since the explosion in crime can't be blamed on Donald Trump, it can be largely ignored.
So those in charge should consider the recent primary elections for mayor of New York City, where standards of political correctness are set.
It was no surprise that Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels crime watch group, won the Republican nomination, since Republicans encompass the law-and-order crowd. But there [ITALICS] was [END ITALICS] some surprise in the apparent victory in the Democratic primary of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former state senator and police captain.
Ranked-choice votes still have to be tabulated, but Adams, who is Black, assembled a coalition of working-class voters from all ethnic groups and boroughs in support of a law-and-order platform. His main point is that public safety is the prerequisite of prosperity.
Could even New York City Democrats care more about public safety than politically correct nonsense like "critical race theory" and transgenderism? And if New York City Democrats can, could voters in Connecticut?
In any case Connecticut is full of criminal cases that should become political issues. The public increasingly sees, even as state government denies, that there is a scandal in the growing number of car thefts and other crimes being committed by teens and young men who know they will never be punished. The General Assembly keeps refusing to reinstate deterrence.
So last week the 25-year-old suspect in a double shooting in Hartford in which one victim was killed was presented in court and charged with murder. It was the city's 20th murder of the year, against 25 all last year. News reports said that the defendant had been awaiting prosecution on at least five previous charges.
This week two teens who had been living in a group home broke into and ransacked the senior citizens center in Wolcott. Stealing a car nearby, they crashed into two parked cars and then a utility pole, totaling the stolen car, before being caught. They laughed as police booked them. A judge quickly ordered them released, but after public protests they were put in detention.
And then a man jogging on a sidewalk in New Britain was struck and killed by a car stolen in Hartford. Surveillance video showed two teens running away from the scene. New Britain police located one hiding in a closet at his home and charged him with first-degree assault, reckless driving, and car theft. Though he is only 17, police said, he has been arrested 13 times in the last four years on charges including assault with a knife, narcotics possession, reckless driving, evading responsibility, car theft, and robbery. Still, he was free.
This week Governor Lamont weakly responded to the crime wave by proposing to spend $5 million more on crime detection. But the problem isn't detection at all but what government does with the criminals it already has detected and apprehended.
Of course prisons aren't very good at rehabilitation. But then [ITALICS] nothing [END ITALICS] is, and at least prisons [ITALICS] are [END ITALICS] good at incapacitating the [ITALICS] unrehabilitated [END ITALICS] until those in charge discover something in criminal justice that does more than strike a politically correct pose, and until they get even more relevant by asking:
Where are all the messed-up kids coming from?
* * *
AVOID WEED, GOVERNOR: Connecticut may hope that Governor Lamont was just joking the other day when asked if, now that the state is legalizing marijuana, he would smoke some. "Time will tell," the governor replied. "Not right now but we'll see."
Yes, drug criminalization has been a failure, but despite Connecticut's new law, marijuana is still prohibited by federal law, and the dignity of his office obliges the governor to obey it.
So does politics. For as a Democrat the governor already has sewn up the stoner vote, and he and his party will fare better if smoking dope can't be used to explain their raising gas taxes and coddling young criminals.
Besides, Connecticut offers much more compelling opportunities for civil disobedience. Why not try, say, buying alcoholic beverages below state-minimum prices or patronizing an unlicensed hypnotist?
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester