PA 06-193—sHB 5781

Judiciary Committee

Appropriations Committee

Public Health Committee

General Law Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING CRIMINAL JUSTICE POLICY AND PLANNING AND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A SENTENCING TASK FORCE

SUMMARY: This act creates a Connecticut Sentencing Task Force to review the state's criminal justice and sentencing policies and laws to create a more just, effective, and efficient system of sentencing.

It changes the responsibilities and reporting requirements of the Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division within the Office of Policy and Management (OPM), including transferring to the division responsibility for developing and implementing the reentry strategy for offenders returning to the community. It also changes the content requirements for the reentry strategy.

The act renames the Commission on Prison and Jail Overcrowding the Criminal Justice Policy and Advisory Commission, adds four members to the commission, and requires it to advise and assist the division.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2006

SENTENCING TASK FORCE

The act requires the task force to:

1. identify overarching criminal justice and sentencing goals and policies;

2. define current sentencing models, including sentencing guidelines, criteria, exemptions, and enhancements;

3. analyze sentencing trends by offense type and offender characteristics;

4. review actual versus intended impact of sentencing policies;

5. determine direct and indirect costs of sentencing policies; and

6. recommend revisions of criminal justice and sentencing policies.

The act also requires the task force to review the fines and terms of imprisonment for classified and unclassified felonies and misdemeanors and make recommendations, including whether:

1. unclassified crimes should be classified;

2. certain classified crimes should be reclassified or penalties for certain unclassified crimes revised to make penalties for similar crimes more uniform;

3. the penalty or type of penalty for certain crimes should be revised or eliminated as no longer necessary, appropriate, or disproportionate to the severity of the crime; and

4. a crime is obsolete and should be repealed.

The task force must report to the Judiciary Committee by December 1, 2008, and it terminates when it completes its duties.

Access to Information

The act requires the Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division to provide criminal justice data, analyses, and technical assistance to carry out the task force's duties. The task force can request any state office, department, board, commission, or agency to supply reports, information, and assistance necessary or appropriate to carry out its duties, and the act authorizes and directs state officers and employees to cooperate with the task force.

Membership

The task force consists of the following 28 members:

1. the Judiciary Committee's chairmen and ranking members;

2. two Superior Court judges, appointed by the chief court administrator, who each have been on the bench at least 10 years and have presided over cases in the judicial district criminal court for at least five years;

3. two state's attorneys, appointed by the chief state's attorney, who each have at least 10 years experience as a prosecuting attorney and at least five years prosecuting cases in judicial district criminal courts;

4. two public defenders, appointed by the chief public defender, who each have at least 10 years experience as a public defender and at least five years representing defendants in judicial district criminal courts;

5. two criminal defense lawyers with at least 15 years experience each representing defendants in criminal cases, with one appointed by the Connecticut Bar Association's criminal justice section and the other appointed by the Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers Association;

6. the Judicial Branch's Court Support Services Division executive director or his designee;

7. the correction commissioner or her designee;

8. the Board of Pardons and Paroles chairman or his designee;

9. the mental health and addiction services commissioner or his designee;

10. the victim advocate or his designee;

11. the Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division undersecretary;

12. an assistant attorney general appointed by the attorney general;

13. three municipal police chiefs appointed by the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association, one from an urban area, one from a suburban area, and one from a rural area; and

14. six legislators with one appointed by each of the top six legislative leaders.

The Judiciary Committee chairmen chair the task force.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE POLICY AND PLANNING DIVISION

Reentry Strategy

The act requires the Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division to develop and implement the comprehensive reentry strategy. Under prior law, the Board of Pardons and Paroles, Judicial Branch, and the departments of Correction, Mental Health and Addiction Services, Social Services, and Labor collaborated to develop and implement the strategy.

The act also changes the requirements for the reentry strategy. Prior law required the strategy to provide a continuum of custody, care, and control for offenders discharged from Department of Correction (DOC) custody. The act requires the strategy to focus on offenders being supervised in the community, especially those discharged from DOC custody.

By law, the strategy must (1) support victims' rights, (2) protect the public, and (3) promote successful transition from incarceration to the community. Under the act, the strategy must achieve this by:

1. maximizing any available period of community supervision for eligible and suitable offenders;

2. identifying and addressing the barriers to offenders' successful transition from incarceration to the community;

3. ensuring sufficient criminal justice resources to manage offender caseloads;

4. identifying community-based supervision, treatment, education, and other services and programs proven effective in reducing recidivism; and

5. creating employment initiatives for offenders though public and private services and partnerships by reinvesting savings from reducing the prison population.

The act requires the division, instead of DOC, to report annually on the success of the reentry strategy to the Appropriations, Judiciary, and Public Safety and Security committees. The first report is due by January 1, 2007

Reporting Requirements

By law, the division must develop a plan to promote a more effective and cohesive state criminal justice system. The act requires the division to submit its plan to the governor and the Appropriations, Judiciary, and Public Safety and Security committees by January 15, 2007. It must update the plan and re-submit it by January 15, 2009 and every two years after that.

The law also requires the division to submit a report and make a presentation to the Judiciary and Appropriations committees annually by January 1 about its activities, recommendations, and specific actions to promote an effective and cohesive criminal justice system. Beginning with the report and presentation due by January 1, 2008, the act requires them to include information on the reentry strategy's development and implementation.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE POLICY AND ADVISORY COMMISSION

The act renames the Commission on Prison and Jail Overcrowding the Criminal Justice Policy and Advisory Commission. It adds the labor and social services commissioners, or their designees, to the commission but only gives them authority to deliberate and vote on matters concerning employment and entitlement programs available to adult and juvenile offenders reentering the community. Similarly, it adds the children and families and education commissioners, or their designees, to the commission but only gives them authority to deliberate and vote on juvenile justice matters.

The act also requires the commission to (1) advise the division's undersecretary on policies and procedures to promote more effective and cohesive criminal and juvenile justice systems and to develop and implement the reentry strategy and (2) assist the undersecretary in developing the recommendations in the report and presentation. As under prior law for the Commission on Prison and Jail Overcrowding, the commission must (1) develop and recommend policies to prevent prison overcrowding; (2) examine the impact of statutes and administrative policies on overcrowding, and recommend legislation; and (3) research and gather data and information on efforts to prevent overcrowding and make it available to criminal justice agencies and legislators.

BACKGROUND

Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division

PA 05-249, effective July 1, 2006, creates the Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division within OPM, directed by an OPM undersecretary. Among other things, the law requires the division, in developing its plan, to 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. It can also analyze the juvenile justice system.

The division must also 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.

OLR Tracking: CR: VR: PF: RO