The Connecticut Legislature adjourned in June after six months of committee meetings, public hearings, closed-door negotiations, and floor debates. Cumulatively, the session made way for progress in the criminal justice system and other progressive objectives, wrote Jaden Edison, the justice reporter of the CT Mirror.
“I think that we continue the path of trying to move forward in terms of being more progressive,” said the Judiciary Committee co-chair Sen. Gary Winfield (D-New Haven). “There was always a push in a progressive direction, but accomplishing multiple things wasn’t always going on in a way that it’s going now.”
Some of the advanced bills covered measures aimed at at-risk youth and one that increases the age eligibility for sentences to life without parole, according to the CT Mirror.
Advocates who believe in delayed development of brains in young adults found acknowledgement of their concept in a bill that increases the age for sentences of life without parole to 21 from 18, the article said. The new law makes eligible for resentencing all convictions that occurred since Oct. 1, 2005, rather than 2015.
The state made advancements with a new law that mandates creation of a plan for pre-arrest diversion of low-risk, first-or-second time offending children who have committed minor crimes, such as trespass or breach of peace. Advocates said that they already have a plan for alternatives to arrest that would connect at-risk youth with programs.
Of the other bills that passed, the Clean Slate initiative automatically erases people’s criminal records for misdemeanors seven years after the date of conviction and 10 years after certain felony convictions if they have not been convicted of other crimes. Another passed bill addressed loopholes in a 2017 law that required the state’s Department of Correction to provide state ID cards and the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue driver’s licenses to incarcerated persons after release.
“I think we saw the Legislature take some really positive steps forward on issues that people that have been impacted by the criminal legal system face,” said Gus Marks-Hamilton, an ACLU campaign manager for Connecticut. “And over the course of the session, we’ve seen that there’s a lot more work that needs to be done as well.”
The Connecticut legislature failed to pass legislation that would have required courts to modify or dismiss cases now moot because of legalization of some possessions of cannabis. Lawmakers eliminated an earlier provision in the bill after the Division of Criminal Justice declared that all pending prosecutions of marijuana-related cases had been cleared, the article said.