Over the last several months, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy has been making rounds throughout the state as he tries to garner support for proposals that would continue his intended reform of the criminal justice system. The governor has labeled his efforts, which began several years ago, as “Second Chance Society” initiatives, as they focus on rehabilitating non-violent offenders and keeping them out of the state’s already crowded prisons. In 2015, Malloy was successful in getting his first series of proposals passed by the state legislature, reducing penalties and emphasizing treatment for non-violent drug offenders. This year, the governor is pushing for—among other objectives—a reform of the state’s bail programs, a change that some say is not all that necessary.
A Look at the Numbers
The Connecticut Sentencing Commission—a non-partisan committee whose membership includes judges, defense lawyers, prosecutors, and law enforcement officials—conducted a study of the current state of the bail system in Connecticut. The Commission found that of the 14,800 inmates in the state’s jails and prisons, approximately one-fourth have yet to go to trial or are awaiting sentencing. About 650 defendants are still in jail for cases in which bail was set at less than $20,000. According to the Commission’s findings, approximately 14 percent of all defendants arrested for a crime are held on some sort of financial bail.
While the Commission warned that it cannot say for sure that defendants sit in jail solely due to the fact that they cannot afford the bail but said that the available data is “consistent with the possibility that this does occur.” As a result, the Commission recommended that some reform is necessary. Malloy’s plan would restrict the use of financial bail in misdemeanor cases and allow defendants to make a 10 percent refundable deposit directly to court rather than forcing him or her to make a non-refundable deposit to a bail bond agent.
Solving a “Non-Existent Problem?”
The statistics relating to pre-trial incarceration and bail in Connecticut may seem troubling—and there is no shortage of anecdotal examples of impoverished defendants being held in jail—many believe that the governor and the Commission are overstating the issue. The tools currently in place for setting bail have been and will continue to be successful, at least according to Andrew Marocchini, president of the Bail Association of Connecticut. Despite the ominous-looking numbers and an average cost to the state of $70 million per year, the state’s pre-trial incarceration rate is among the lowest in the nation. The Commission went so far to acknowledge this in its recommendation.
“It’s been proven to be among the best, if not the best in the country,” Marocchini said, referring to the state’s existing bail system. While the governor’s efforts may help to an extent, Marocchini believes that the governor is actually “seeking a solution for a non-existent problem.”
Get Help With Your Case
If you have been arrested on any type of criminal charges and are facing a bail hearing, you need help right away. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Connecticut for assistance. We will ensure that your rights are fully protected at every stage of the proceedings. Call [[phone1]] for a free consultation at Woolf Law Firm, LLC today.