Over the last several years, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy has been at the forefront of criminal justice reform. He has championed a series of measures to create what he has called a “Second Chance Society,” which focuses on educating and rehabilitating criminal offenders rather than jumping right into severe punishments. Most of the Second Chance Society efforts have been directed toward helping low-level, non-violent offenders. Recently, however, Governor Malloy turned his attention to those who have not yet been tried or convicted, as he sought to improve the state’s bail system and reduce the population of local and county jails.
When a person is arrested on suspicion that he or she committed a crime, the suspect must often wait several days before he or she is brought before a judge for an arraignment. In the meantime, many defendants are forced to sit in jail because they cannot afford to pay cash bail. The wait is often much longer between arraignment and trial. Even a few days in detention, however, can be problematic for low-income individuals, as they may be forced to miss work. The resulting instability can ultimately lead to a cycle of criminal behavior.
In recognition of the problem, Governor Malloy worked with state lawmakers throughout the last two years to craft a bill that reforms the bail system for those suspected of most low-level crimes. After failing to get the measure passed last year, the governor was successful this year. Earlier this week, he signed the bill into law, which will take effect on July 1.
Many around the state are praising the governor’s efforts to enact the law. Under its terms, courts in Connecticut may not set monetary bail for misdemeanor defendants unless the case involves family violence or the defendant is found to be a flight risk. Monetary bail is also permissible for defendants who are found likely to obstruct justice or harm themselves or somebody else.
When money bail is appropriate, the law also creates new avenues to allow defendants to avoid sitting in jail. Defendants must be given the option to get out of jail by paying a portion of their total bail amount, which may involve private bail bond companies. If a defendant still cannot make bail, he or she must be given a bail review hearing within two weeks of his or her arraignment. Under the previous law, such a review was required within 30 days.
Questions About Bail?
If you or a loved one has been arrested on criminal charges, you may be wondering how the bail system will work in your case. Contact an experienced Hartford criminal defense attorney to discuss your situation and to get the answers you need. Call [[phone1]] for a free consultation at Woolf Law Firm, LLC today.