More than 46 percent of the federal court sentences in Connecticut were for drug-related crimes in 2013, well ahead of the national average of 31 percent. Only West Virginia, Maine and Arkansas have a higher rate, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
But among those states, Connecticut is unique because the most common sentence is for crack cocaine. In Arkansas, it’s methamphetamine. In West Virginia and Maine, it’s “other” drugs, such as prescription painkillers.
In Connecticut, data shows crack cocaine is becoming more of a problem, contrary to nationwide trends.
Nationwide, sentencing for methamphetamine and marijuana has increased as a percentage of all drug convictions. But in Connecticut, sentences for those substances are a small percentage.
In 1995, about 40 percent of all federal sentences — including fraud, larceny and immigration-related crimes — were drug-related; that dropped to around 30 percent in the early 2010s. But in Connecticut, the opposite has been true.
In the western half of the U.S., meth-related sentences are the most common, according to analysis from the Coalition Against Drug Abuse using data from a 2013 United States Sentencing Commission report. Though marijuana has had a resurgence because of legalization in some states like Colorado, only the three states by the Mexican border — Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona — had increased sentencing for the drug.
Regionally, New England’s most common federal drug-related sentences are for cocaine, heroin and crack cocaine.
Across the country, cocaine sentences are more prevalent than crack cocaine sentences — just not in New England and the other states colored in purple below:
As far as drug trafficking sentences, Connecticut is on the lower end of the spectrum per capita: