Topic:
CRIME; CRIMINALS; STATISTICAL INFORMATION; FELONIES;
Location:
CRIME AND CRIMINALS;

OLR Research Report


February 14, 2005

 

2005-R-0075

PEOPLE CONVICTED OF A FELONY DURING THE PAST 10 YEARS

By: George Coppolo, Chief Attorney

You asked how many people have been convicted of felony during the past 10 years in Connecticut.

SUMMARY

Apparently no state agency tracks how many people are convicted of a felony each year. We have spoken with Greg Pac, Larry D'Orsi, Terry Walker, and Celia Siefert of the Judicial Department; Captain Scott Martin of the Department of Public Safety; Terry Stowell of the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Parole; and Arthur Champaign and Kathy Womack of the Office of the Secretary of the State. Because no agency compiles these statistics, we have attempted to approximate the number of people convicted of a felony each year by obtaining statistics from various agencies that provide a partial list.

Beginning 2002, the law requires the commissioner of the Department of Correction (DOC) to send the secretary of the state a list each month, of all convicted felons committed to his custody during the preceding calendar month. According to these lists during 2002, 2003, and 2004 there were 17,937 convicted felons committed to his custody. Assuming these years are somewhat representative of prior years, we can assume that for the past 10 years approximately 60,000 people convicted of a felony were sentenced to prison (6,000 people a year x 10 years). But this figure under represents the number of people convicted of a felony because not everyone convicted of a felony is sent to prison. And it may over represent it because the same person may be convicted of a felony multiple times during any 10-year period.

The Judicial Department keeps track of cases resolved each year. We have provided this information below for each year since 1997. But because each person can have multiple felony cases (sometimes referred to as dockets) these figures are not necessarily that helpful in trying to determine how many people were convicted of a felony each year.

NUMBER OF PEOPLE SENT TO PRISON EACH YEAR FOR COMMITTING A FELONY

Up until 2001, felons forfeited their electoral rights and privileges while serving their sentences, which included parole and probation. PA 01-11 instead requires the forfeiture of electoral rights only for felons imprisoned in a federal prison, a state or out-of-state correctional institution or facility, or a community residence. Thus, it excluded from the forfeiture penalty felons who were not sentenced to prison or who were on parole or probation.

The act requires the DOC commissioner, instead of the Judicial Department, to send the secretary of the state lists of felons whose voting rights should be forfeited and those eligible to have their rights restored. The act requires the commissioner to send the secretary of the state a list by the 15th of each month, of all convicted felons committed to his custody during the preceding calendar month.

The DOC commissioner's list must include each inmate's name, birth date, address, date of conviction, and crime. The secretary gives the list to the registrar of the towns where (1) each felon lived when he was convicted and (2) the secretary believes the felon was registered to vote. The registrars must compare the list with the voter registry list and, after written notice to the felon's last known address, erase his name from the voting list.

According to the list the DOC commissioner provided the Secretary of the State's office, during 2002, 2003, and 2004 there were a total of 17,937 convicted felons committed to her custody. This does not account for every person convicted of a felony during this period since not everyone convicted of a felony is sentenced to prison. But it is common for people convicted of a felony to serve some time in prison. Thus, the figure provides some useful information concerning the total number of people convicted of a felony during that period. Thus, for these three years, the average number of people sentenced to prison for a felony each year was nearly 6,000.

Unfortunately, apparently this information is not available for prior years. Assuming that 2002, 2003, and 2004 are somewhat representative of prior years, it may be appropriate to assume that the average number of people sentenced to prison for a felony during the prior years was about the same as for the three years we have data for. If this is true, we can assume that for the past 10 years approximately 60,000 people convicted of a felony were sentenced to prison.

During this same time period, the DOC commissioner reported that he released from prison confinement 13,462 people who had been convicted of a felony.

JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT STATISTICS

Greg Pac, of the Judicial Department advised us that his Department does not keep statistics of people convicted of felonies. Rather it keeps statistics of cases (or dockets) disposed of. Because defendants often have multiple charges or dockets and because people often go through the criminal justice system multiple times, there are more felony cases that result in a felony conviction than there are felons. The table below lists the number of felony cases that resulted in a conviction from 1997 through 2004 on a yearly basis. Pac and Terry Walker, also of the Judicial Department, provided the information.

Table 1: Felony Cases Resulting in a Conviction 1997-2004

Year

Felony Cases Resulting in a Conviction

1997

15,613

1998

16,734

1999

16,350

2000

15,040

2001

15,853

2002

16,134

2003

15,980

2004

16,761

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