OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 6976 (as amended by House “A” and “B”)*

AN ACT CONCERNING CRIMINAL JUSTICE PLANNING

SUMMARY:

This bill creates the Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division within the Office of Policy and Management (OPM), directed by an OPM undersecretary, to develop a plan to promote a more effective and cohesive state criminal justice system. Among other things, it must conduct an in-depth analysis of the criminal justice system, determine the system’s long-range needs and make recommendations, identify critical problems, advise the General Assembly, and determine information needs. The bill authorizes the division to perform any of these functions to promote an effective and cohesive juvenile justice system.

The bill requires the division to collaborate with certain agencies, consult certain officials, and those agencies and officials must provide information and data that the division needs. The bill includes provisions on the confidentiality of that information.

The bill requires the division to develop correctional population projections for planning purposes and report them annually by November 1. It must develop a reporting system to track trends and outcomes related to policies designed to reduce prison overcrowding, improve rehabilitation efforts, and enhance reentry strategies for offenders released from prison. The division must issue monthly reports beginning by November 1, 2006.

The bill requires the system to define outcomes for major programs, annually report them, and delineate strategies to measure outcomes when information is not available to measure the effectiveness of particular programs. The first yearly report is due by January 1, 2007 and can be included in a report and presentation the division must make annually by January 1 to the Appropriations and Judiciary committees about its activities, recommendations, and specific actions necessary to promote an effective and cohesive criminal justice system.

The bill also makes the OPM undersecretary a member of the Prison and Jail Overcrowding Commission (PJOC) and makes him the commission’s chairman. Under current law, the governor appoints a commission member as chairman. The bill deletes the requirement that the PJOC annually issue a comprehensive state criminal justice plan to prevent prison overcrowding

By law, the Office of Victim Services (OVS) may compensate certain crime victims, or their immediate families when the victim is deceased, incapacitated, or a minor child, for actual and reasonable expenses, lost wages, and pecuniary and other losses resulting from injury or death. The bill eliminates deadlines by which certain applicants must apply for waivers of the statute of limitations.

*House Amendment “A” eliminates a requirement that the OPM undersecretary be appointed by the governor with the General Assembly’s consent, eliminates a requirement that the undersecretary consult the governor and certain legislators to set the division’s research priorities, specifies that certain agencies must give the division information and adds confidentiality provisions, changes the types of monthly and annual data to be reported and changes the due dates for the reports, adds provisions about the reporting system, and eliminates the PJOC annual prison overcrowding report.

*House Amendment “B” adds the provision on the statute of limitations for victim compensation applications.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2006 except the provision on the statute of limitations for victim compensation applications is effective October 1, 2005.

PLANNING

In order to develop its plan for the criminal justice system, the bill requires the division to:

1. conduct an in-depth analysis of the criminal justice system;

2. determine the system’s long-range needs and recommend policy priorities;

3. identify critical problems and recommend strategies to solve them;

4. assess the cost effectiveness of the use of state and local funds;

5. recommend ways to improve the deterrent and rehabilitative capabilities of the system;

6. advise and assist the General Assembly in developing plans, programs, and proposed legislation for improving the effectiveness of the system;

7. compute daily costs and compare interagency costs of services provided by agencies;

8. compute populations to plan the system’s long-range needs;

9. determine the system’s long-range information needs and acquire that information;

10. cooperate with the Office of the Victim Advocate by providing information and assistance to that office related to improving victims’ services;

11. act as liaison for the state to the U. S. Department of Justice on criminal justice issues relating to data, information systems, and research;

12. measure the success of community-based services and programs in reducing recidivism; and

13. engage in other activities consistent with its responsibilities.

The bill also authorizes the division to perform any of these functions to promote an effective and cohesive juvenile justice system.

COLLABORATIONS, CONSULTATIONS, AND DATA

The bill requires the division to (1) collaborate with the departments of Correction, Mental Health and Addiction Services, and Public Safety, and the Board of Pardons and Paroles and (2) consult the chief court administrator, chief state’s attorney, chief public defender, and Court Support Services Division executive director. At the division’s request, these departments and officials must provide information and data the division needs to perform its duties. The bill gives the division access to individualized records for research purposes. They can be used for statistical analyses only and not in any manner that reveals the identity of individuals. The division must develop protocols with the agencies to protect the privacy of the records following state and federal law. Any information and data received that is confidential under state or federal law remains confidential and cannot be disclosed.

SYSTEM TO TRACK TRENDS AND OUTCOMES

The bill requires the division to develop a reporting system to track trends and outcomes related to policies designed to reduce prison overcrowding, improve rehabilitation efforts, and enhance reentry strategies of offenders released from prison. The system must track monthly the:

1. number of admissions to prison (a) directly from the courts, (b) for parole revocation, and (c) for probation revocation;

2. number of releases on parole and to other forms of community supervision and facilities;

3. parole granting rates;

4. number of probation placements and placement to probation facilities;

5. prison population; and

6. projected prison population.

The first monthly report is due by November 1, 2006.

Annual Report and Presentation

The bill requires the system to define outcomes for major programs, annually report them, and delineate strategies to measure outcomes when information is not available to measure the effectiveness of particular programs. The system must yearly track recidivism of offenders (1) released from prison, (2) on probation, and (3) participating in programs designed to reduce prison overcrowding, improve rehabilitation efforts, and enhance reentry strategies. The division must measure recidivism with a nationally accepted method.

The bill requires the first yearly report by January 1, 2007 and it can be included in a report and presentation the division must make annually by January 1 to the Appropriations and Judiciary committees about its activities, recommendations, and specific actions necessary to promote an effective and cohesive criminal justice system. The report must (1) estimate the savings achieved by the actual prison population being less than projected before policies were adopted to reduce prison overcrowding and (2) recommend how to reinvest a portion of the savings in community-based services and programs and community supervision by probation and parole officers to maintain the reduction in projected prison population.

PJOC Report

The bill deletes a requirement that the PJOC annually issue a comprehensive state criminal justice plan to prevent prison overcrowding (1) specifically including a study of the pretrial and post-sentencing options provided through community-based agencies and (2) accounting for other state plans in related areas of mental health and drug and alcohol abuse and the report of the Alternatives to Incarceration Advisory Committee.

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR VICTIM COMPENSATION APPLICATIONS

The bill removes the deadline for eligible crime victims or their immediate families to request OVS to waive the time limit for victim compensation applications. The bill applies to waiver requests filed before, on, and after October 1, 2005.

By law, eligible crime victims generally have two years after the date of personal injury or death to apply for victim compensation. However, victims who miss the deadline can ask for, and OVS can grant, a waiver if (1) they sustained physical, emotional, or psychological injuries as a result of the personal injury or death or (2) were minors during the two-year period and through no fault of their own missed the deadline. Under current law, the maximum waiver deadline for minors is two years after they reach 18 or seven years after the date of personal injury or death, whichever is sooner. The maximum deadline for all others is six years after personal injury or death.

BACKGROUND

PJOC

Under current law, the commission consists of the (1) following officials or their designees: the chief court administrator; corrections, mental health and addiction services, and public safety commissioners; chief state’s attorney; chief public defender; and Board of Pardons and Paroles chairman; (2) Court Support Services executive director or someone the chief court administrator designates; and (3) following gubernatorial appointees: three government officials, a police chief, two people representing offender and victim services in the private community, and two members of the public.

Legislative History

On May 3, the House referred the bill (File 590) to the Legislative Management Committee, which favorably reported it on May 6. On May 10, the House referred the bill to the Appropriations Committee. That committee reported a substitute bill on May 16, delaying the effective date one year to July 1, 2006. On May 27, the House referred the bill (File 799) to the Government Administration and Elections Committee, which favorably reported it on June 2.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Judiciary Committee

Joint Favorable Report

Yea

40

Nay

0

Joint Committee on Legislative Management

Joint Favorable Report

Yea

17

Nay

0

Appropriations Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

42

Nay

0

Government Administration and Elections Committee

Joint Favorable Report

Yea

18

Nay

0