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I co-founded the Prison Policy Initiative to put the problem of mass incarceration — and the perverse incentives that fuel it — on the national agenda. Over the last 16 years, our campaigns have protected our democracy from the prison system and protected the poorest families in this country from the predatory prison telephone industry. Our reports untangle the statistics and recruit new allies.

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New Report and a Legislative Breakfast on Connecticut’s sentencing enhancement zones

by Aleks Kajstura, March 28, 2014

report coverThis morning I presented our new research on Connecticut’s sentencing enhancement zones at an informational Legislative Breakfast hosted by A Better Way Foundation, Unitarian Universalist Society: East Manchester, and Senator Gary Holder-Winfield.

Connecticut Representative Brandon McGee and PPI Legal Director Aleks Kajstura discuss Hartford's sentencing enhancement zones

I discuss Hartford’s zones with Representative Brandon McGee

The report, released today, analyzes Connecticut’s 1,500-foot sentencing enhancement zones, mapping the zones in the state’s cities and towns and demonstrates that the law doesn’t work, it cannot possibly work as written, and that it creates an unfair two-tiered system of justice based on a haphazard distinction between urban and rural areas of the state.

Connecticut’s 1,500-foot sentencing enhancement zones, meant to protect children from drug activity, are some of the largest in the country. I described how the law’s sheer expanse means it fails to actually set apart protected areas and that it arbitrarily increases penalties for urban residents.

Connecticut Senator Gary Holder-Winfield speaks at the breakfast

Senator Gary Holder-Winfield speaking at the breakfast

SB 259, currently pending before the Judiciary Committee, would decrease that size to a more effective 200 feet. This would allow the law to actually create the specially protected places it was intended to in the first place. Making the zone smaller would come much closer to the law’s original intent, and largely get rid of the urban penalty effect. For more details on the bill, check out my written testimony (with maps).

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