Republicans Commend Panel for Scheduling Wednesday Hearing on Criminal Justice Reforms

March 31, 2015

Legislation Would Create New London, New Haven Treatment Programs

HartfordSenate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven), House Republican Leader Themis Klarides (R-Derby), and Senator John A. Kissel (R-Enfield), Ranking Member on the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, today thanked the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee chairs for scheduling a Wednesday public hearing on proposed criminal justice reform legislation.

The panel on Wednesday will consider SB 1129: An Act Establishing a Pilot Program to Identify and Track the Homeless, Addicted or Mentally Ill Persons Entering the Justice System and Concerning the Earned Risk Reduction Credit Program.

“We fully support the Committee’s efforts to consider this bill and we look forward to Wednesday’s public hearing to gather public input on this important piece of legislation,” said Fasano and Klarides, who co-wrote a letter with Kissel. “We thank committee co-chairs Sen. Eric Coleman, Rep. William Tong and members of the Judiciary Committee for scheduling this public hearing.”

The proposed legislation would establish a “gatekeeper” pilot program in New London and New Haven to identify early on in the criminal justice process offenders who are drug addicted, mentally ill, homeless, or veterans, and place them into treatment programs without first prosecuting them.

Republicans have proposed and advocated for this program, which has also been included in the Republicans’ ‘Plan for Progress and Opportunity in Connecticut’s Cities’ as a new way to reduce recidivism.

In addition to establishing the “gatekeeper” pilot program, the bill also would require more accountability in the state’s Risk Reduction Earned Credit program by:

  • Adding manslaughter, persistent dangerous felons and sex offenders, aggravated sexual assault of a minor, and assault of pregnant woman resulting in loss of fetus as crimes for which a person cannot earn risk reduction credits.
  • Requiring a prison warden to review and sign off on risk reduction credits earned by an inmate.

“These proposed changes to Connecticut’s early release program signify a major step forward in strengthening protections in our justice system and ensuring that programs are monitored and administered properly,” the legislators said.

“This bipartisan support will enhance safety and accountability in the system while providing people with the tools they need to turn their lives around and prevent future crimes. This legislation goes a long way to advance Connecticut. We are thankful for the opportunity to have our ideas presented and discussed in a public hearing.”