Don't unfairly politicize savage murders

Sergio Correa, 26, has again reminded us how cruel and evil humans can be.

Allegedly. I have to add that. Innocent until proven guilty. That’s the constitutional assumption, as it should be.

But it sure looks like he did it. His alleged co-conspirator in the savage murders of three Griswold residents has confessed and described Correa’s involvement. It happens to be his sister.

What these murders are not, however, is evidence that the policies of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration that seek to lower recidivism rates are a failure. And the killings are not an indication that crime is out of control in Connecticut. In actuality, crime is down significantly.

Some Republicans last week tried to score political points over the murders. A former ex-con who got out of prison before his sentence was fully complete murders a family. Evidence, went the claim, that the Malloy administration’s soft-on-crime policies are to blame and making us less safe.

The argument could resonate with voters. It will be interesting if any of the Republican candidates competing for governor take up the cry moving into the general election.

It is not true, though.

According to the confession provided by Ruth Correa, 23, the murders were set in motion when 21-year-old Matthew Lindquist made a deal, literally, it would appear, with the devil. According to her account, in an exchange for drugs Lindquist agreed to help the Correas rob his parents’ home, including guns, in the upscale Kenwoods Estates a few days before Christmas.

Matthew was murdered first, his body left nearby but inexplicably not uncovered by police, found instead months later by a passerby on a walk. Kenneth and Janet Lindquist were savagely beaten, the father dying from the blunt trauma, his wife from inhaling smoke, as she lay incapacitated in the home that the invaders allegedly set afire before departing.

Prosecutors have charged both Correas with the murders and associated crimes.

Police had arrested Sergio Correa several times before he ended up in adult court, at age 16, for armed robberies and other crimes he committed in Waterbury in 2008. In a plea deal, the judge sentenced him to 20 years in prison, suspended after 10 years served.

Correa was released on Sept. 8, 2017, his release approved by the Board of Parole after he completed 85 percent of his sentence, a policy in place before any of the Malloy administration reforms. Those reforms can provide inmates up to five days off their sentence per month by receiving credits for completing various steps aimed at reforming behavior.

The credits Correa gained reduced the time he spent on parole before moving to probation, but did not speed up his release.

These heinous home invasion murders generate fear and, as they are repeated in news reports, a sense of a society no longer safe.

In reality, statewide arrests are down 40 percent since 2003. Youth arrests in particular are plummeting, with arrests of 18-year-olds down 58 percent since 2008. Total youth arrests, for those under 25, are down 51 percent over that period, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting statistics.

Because crime is down, so is the state’s prison population, down 28 percent from 2009.

None of this makes these murders less horrible, but it does put them in perspective.

Those who want to kill the killers can rightfully blame Malloy and the Democrats in the legislature for repeal of the death penalty. Me too. The Day in its editorials long opposed capital punishment, and still does, persuaded by the evidence that it is not a deterrent, but rather a barbaric form of revenge that diminishes us.

But if proved guilty, these two should never get a hint of freedom again.

Paul Choiniere is the editorial page editor.



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