Connecticut Sentencing Commission Suffers from Amnesia by resuming talks of Bail Reform

The Connecticut Sentencing Commission this week held a public hearing on bail reform – rehashing a multi-year issue already addressed mere months ago.

by Jeff Clayton, Executive Director, American Bail Coalition

The Connecticut Sentencing Commission, which is a commission that rubber-stamps the bail reform policies of lame-duck Governor Malloy, has a bit of amnesia it appears.  After doing a multi-year exhaustive study where they looked at comprehensive bail reform, which then lead to a multi-year legislative process to implement bail reform, the Commission is now claiming it forgot to look at the no-money bail system and now it needs to do that.

To the contrary, the Commission absolutely considered the no money bail system and failed to recommend it.  In fact, the Commission directly rejected the no money bail system by instead recommending “carefully limited” preventative detention rather than the widespread use of preventative detention used in New Jersey and Washington, D.C. We know that because were there.  We presented as to the issues with the Washington, D.C., federal, and New Jersey systems, and course many of those facts are quoted in the report of the Commission.  In fact, we informed the Commission how to study whether a move to the no-money system would be good for Connecticut – and the numbers proved that Connecticut’s bail system incarcerates only half of that of D.C. and has better outcomes.  Obviously, it would not make sense to spend tens perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars to implement the no money bail system.

While of course this kangaroo-court is likely to recommend the New Jersey system because the Governor apparently forgot to realize that the bill he tried to force down the legislature’s throat for the last two years – upon which he then cut a deal – did not go far enough for him.

The truth is that the question of whether Connecticut should go to the Washington, D.C. or federal models has already been asked and answered in a detailed report.  And the answer was “no” as of February, 2017.

Regardless of what the Commission recommends, the State of Connecticut cannot afford to implement no money bail system.  Calling for a no money bail system so the Governor can re-hash his second chance society themes and leave some limited legacy in the ashes of his governorship will easily be spotted by bail-reform weary legislators who are tired of having to answer to angry constituents for soft-on crime policies and the failing economy.  Adding millions of dollars in expenses to deliver some mythical fairness is not going to get it done at the ballot box in the fall of 2018.

ABC Statement Sentencing Commission – Connecticut – 12/11/17

About Jeffrey Clayton, Executive Director of the American Bail Coalition:

Jeff Clayton joined the American Bail Coalition as Policy Director in May 2015. He has worked in various capacities as a public policy and government relations professional for fifteen years, and also as licensed attorney for the past twelve years. Most recently, he worked as the General Counsel for the Professional Bail Agents of Colorado, in addition to serving other clients in legal, legislative, and policy matters. Jeff spent six years in government service, representing the Colorado State Courts and Probation Department, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, and the United States Secretary of Transportation. He is also a prior Presidential Management Fellow and Finalist for the U.S. Supreme Court fellows program. Mr. Clayton holds a B.B.A. from Baylor University, a M.S. (Public Policy) from the University of Rochester, N.Y., and a J.D. from the Sturm College of Law, University of Denver.

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