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East Hartford criminal defense attorneysThere is little question that 2020 has been difficult on all of us. However, certain segments of the population have been disproportionately affected, including communities of color, according to a prominent group of business professionals. With this in mind, the group—called the Business Roundtable—issued a series of recommendations earlier this week regarding both corporate and public policies, including many related to criminal justice, to improve racial justice and equity moving forward from the recession, COVID-19 pandemic, and police violence protests of 2020.

The Business Roundtable is an organization that consists solely of chief executive officers of major American companies. Together, the represented companies employ more than 15 million workers and report over $7 trillion in yearly revenues. The CEOs that comprise the Business Roundtable are from all 50 states, and they work with communities, policymakers, and workers “to build a better future for the nation and its people.”

A Multi-Faceted Agenda

The recommendations that were released this week addressed six main areas of concern: education, employment, finance, housing, health, and the U.S. justice system. The justice system recommendations are largely focused on offering second chances to individuals looking to improve their lives despite having a criminal record. Some highlights of the recommendations include:

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East Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney

The entire country has seen changes like never before due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly every aspect of life has been affected by this public health crisis -- even the criminal justice system. Across the country, court systems have been operating with the bare minimum staff in only a handful of open courthouses. However, even with a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, some municipalities are planning to or have already begun to reopen. The state of Connecticut is one such municipality that has begun to reopen courthouses.

Barriers to Reopening

Reopening courthouses in the midst of a pandemic pose a challenge for the criminal justice system. COVID-19 is a virus that is mainly spread through respiratory droplets that are produced when you talk, sneeze, and cough. Being in close contact with people, which is closer than six feet apart from another person, increases the chances of transmitting the COVID-19 virus. In criminal matters, close contact with other people is often unavoidable. The accused are often subject to pre-trial detention in close quarters. Judges, lawyers, jury members, and other court staff, in addition to the accused, are subject to confined rooms with poor ventilation for most of the day, during which many people speak for extended periods of time.

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Hartford defense attorney criminal justice system

For years, advocates have claimed that the criminal justice system in the United States is unjust toward certain groups of people. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), one in three black men and one in six Latino men can expect to be incarcerated in their lifetimes, compared to only one in 17 white men. A majority of the country agrees that the U.S. criminal justice system needs to be reformed. One of the main ways of doing this is through the actions of prosecutors, who play a crucial role in the criminal justice process.

Bill Passes in Both CT House and Senate

A bill was recently passed in both the Connecticut Senate and House of Representatives that will require more transparency when it comes to Connecticut prosecutors in the criminal justice system. The bill, which was passed with a rare unanimous vote in both the House and Senate, will require the state to create a public website to publish information such as demographic information about defendants that prosecutors do and do not prosecute, in addition to information about prosecutors’ actions on charging, diversionary programs, plea deals, and sentencing.

The Significance of Prosecutors

Many people believe that prosecutors hold the key to criminal justice reform in the United States. Prosecutors are responsible for many different decisions that are made during the criminal justice process. They determine whether or not a charge is changed or dropped, whether or not a plea deal is offered to a defendant, whether or not bail is recommended, how a case is investigated, and whether or not defendants get the opportunity to participate in diversionary programs, such as drug court.

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