OLR Bill Analysis

HB 7006

Emergency Certification

AN ACT IMPLEMENTING CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF THE BUDGET CONCERNING GENERAL GOVERNMENT.

SUMMARY:

THIS BILL MAKES SEVERAL CHANGES AS NOTED SEPARATELY BELOW.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Various, see below

1 — NO REDUCTIONS IN JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT'S OTHER EXPENSES ACCOUNT

The budget act (PA 09-3, June Special Session (JSS)) requires reductions of other expenses to FY 07 levels of $ 28,000,000 in FY 10 and $ 32,000,000 in FY 11. The bill prohibits making any of these reductions in the Judicial Department's Other Expenses account.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

2 — CHILDREN WITH INCARCERATED PARENTS AND PARDONS

PA 09-3, JSS appropriates $ 700,000 in each of the next two fiscal years (FY 10 and FY 11) to the Department of Correction (DOC) for Children of Incarcerated Parents. The bill instead makes available each fiscal year:

1. $ 650,000 for the Judicial Branch to provide funding for the memorandum of understanding (MOU) the bill requires the branch to enter with Central Connecticut State University for research and programs regarding children with incarcerated parents (see 3) and

2. $ 50,000 for the Connecticut Pardon Team, Inc. to assist individuals in applying for pardons.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

3 — MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING FOR RESEARCH AND PROGRAMS REGARDING CHILDREN WITH INCARCERATED PARENTS

The bill requires the Judicial Branch and Connecticut Central State University to enter a MOU by December 1, 2009, for the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy to conduct research, evaluation, outreach, and public policy development regarding children with incarcerated parents and to create and implement programs for such children, which can include programs to reunify incarcerated women with their children in the community.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

4 — SMALL BUSINESS INCUBATORS

The bill changes how the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) must implement the small business incubator grant program. Incubators are facilities providing research and support services under one roof to small technology-based companies. Current law allows DECD to administer the grants itself or subcontract the administration to another person or entity. The bill requires DECD to provide the grants to the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT) to operate the program statewide.

Under the bill, CCAT must use the DECD funds to provide grants to help small businesses operating within its incubator facility. CCAT must do so according to guidelines it develops with DECD. Under current law, entities operating facilities with DECD grants must do so according to DECD's guidelines. The bill makes conforming changes, including eliminating the requirement that entities apply for incubator grants as the DECD commissioner prescribes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2010

5 — SALE OF GROUP HOMES AND TREATMENT FACILITIES

The bill extends for two years, through June 30, 2011, the moratorium on the sale, lease, or transfer of state-owned residential facilities housing people with mental retardation. Under current law, the prior moratorium ended on June 30, 2009. And it applies the moratorium to state-operated, community-based residential facilities, boarding houses, group homes, and halfway houses occupied by people with mental retardation, psychiatric disabilities, or alcohol or drug dependency.

The bill exempts from the moratorium any state-operated residential property the Department of Developmental Services transferred to private providers before the bill's passage. It continues to exempt state-owned property that was sold, leased, or transferred under an agreement entered into before June 2, 2005.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

6 — CONNECTICUT SENTENCING COMMISSION

The bill creates, within existing budgetary resources, a 23-member Connecticut Sentencing Commission to review the existing criminal sentencing structure and any proposed changes, including existing statutes, proposed legislation, and existing and proposed sentencing policies and practices. It puts the commission within the Office of Policy and Management for administrative purposes only.

The bill sets out a guiding principle for the commission's work and the purposes of sentencing, lists specific duties for the commission, and authorizes the commission to access information held by state and municipal agencies.

The bill requires the commission to meet at least once each quarter and at other times the chairperson deems necessary. It must make recommendations to the governor, legislature, and criminal justice agencies and begin submitting annual reports to the governor, legislature, and Supreme Court chief justice by January 15, 2010.

The bill authorizes the commission to accept federal grants or private funds for purposes consistent with its duties.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

Ex-Officio Members

The bill makes the following officials members of the commission with terms coterminous with their term of office:

1. Board of Pardons and Paroles chairperson;

2. chief public defender;

3. chief state's attorney;

4. correction, mental health and addiction services, and public safety commissioners;

5. Office of Policy and Management's Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division undersecretary; and

6. victim advocate.

Appointed Members

The bill requires various authorities to appoint additional members. Table 1 displays the appointing authority, criteria for the member to be appointed, and the term for each member.

Table 1: Members Appointed to the Commission

Appointing Authority

Criteria for Member

Term

Supreme Court chief justice

Judge

One year

Judge

Three years

Representative of the Judicial Branch's Court Support Services Division

Two years

Active or retired judge

Four years

None specified

Four years

Chief State's Attorney

State's attorney

Three years

Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers Association president

Member of the criminal defense bar

Three years

Connecticut Police Chiefs Association president

Municipal police chief

Two years

Governor

None specified

Four years

Senate president pro tempore

None specified

Four years

Senate majority leader

None specified

Four years

Senate minority leader

None specified

Four years

House speaker

None specified

Four years

House majority leader

None specified

Four years

House minority leader

None specified

Four years

Reappointments and Vacancies

Under the bill, appointed members may be reappointed and any vacancy is filled by the appointing authority for the unexpired portion of the term.

Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson

The bill makes the active or retired judge appointed by the Supreme Court chief justice the commission's chairperson. The commission must elect a vice-chairperson from its members.

Guiding Principle and Purpose of Sentencing

The bill sets a general principle that the commission must consider in its work: sentencing's primary purpose is to enhance public safety while holding the offender accountable to the community. In addition, it states that sentencing should:

1. reflect the seriousness of the offense;

2. be proportional to the harm to victims and the community;

3. use the most appropriate sanctions available, including prison, community punishment, and supervision;

4. have an overriding goal of reducing criminal activity, imposing just punishment, and providing meaningful and effective rehabilitation and reintegration of the offender; and

5. be fair, just, and equitable while promoting respect for the law.

Commission's Duties

The bill requires the commission to:

1. facilitate development and maintenance of a statewide sentencing database in collaboration with existing state and local agencies, use existing state databases or resources where appropriate, and, when the database is completed, review criminal justice legislation on request, within resources;

2. evaluate current sentencing statutes, policies, and practices and conduct a cost-benefit analysis;

3. analyze and study sentencing trends and prepare offender profiles;

4. provide training on sentencing and related issues, policies, and practices;

5. act as a sentencing policy resource for the state;

6. preserve judicial discretion and provide for individualized sentencing;

7. evaluate the impact of pre-trial, sentencing diversion, incarceration, and post-release supervision programs;

8. perform fiscal impact analyses on selected proposed criminal justice legislation;

9. identify potential areas of sentencing disparity relevant to racial, ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic status; and

10. make recommendations for criminal justice legislation to the Judiciary Committee, which must hold a hearing on them.

Information

The bill requires the commission to have access to confidential information received by sentencing courts and the Board of Pardons and Paroles that includes arrest data, criminal history records, medical records, and other non-conviction information.

It requires the commission to obtain full and complete information on state programs, activities, and operations relating to the state's criminal sentencing structure. The bill allows the commission to ask any state or municipal subdivision office, department, board, commission, or agency to provide records, information, and assistance needed or appropriate to carry out the commission's duties. The bill authorizes and directs the officers and employees of those entities to cooperate with the commission and to furnish requested records, information, and assistance.

The bill provides that any record or information given to the commission that is confidential under the statutes remains confidential while in the commission's custody and cannot be disclosed. Any penalty that applies to the officials, employees, and authorized representatives that give the records to the commission also applies in the same way to the commission's members, staff, and authorized representatives.

The bill makes the commission a “criminal justice agency” for purposes of access to criminal history record information of state agencies and subjects the commission to the same security and privacy provisions as the other criminal justice agencies.

BACKGROUND — Sentencing Task Force

PA 06-193 created 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. PA 08-143 required the task force to recommend whether to establish a permanent sentencing commission and, if so, the permanent commission's mission, duties, membership, and procedures. The task force's January 7, 2009 report recommended creation of a permanent sentencing commission.

7 — SALE OF SEASIDE REGIONAL CENTER

The bill requires the public works commissioner to sell the former Seaside Regional Center in Waterford, regardless of any other law. The selling price must be its fair market value, as determined by the average of two independent appraisals.

The sale is subject to State Properties Review Board approval. The bill requires the board to complete its review of the proposed sale within 30 days after it receives a proposed agreement from the public works commissioner, whose department must care for and control the property until the sale is final. The state treasurer must execute the sale agreement and the public works commissioner is responsible for all other aspects of the sale.

The bill requires sale proceeds to be deposited into the General Fund, notwithstanding the law requiring such proceeds be deposited into a special nonlapsing fund for site acquisition, capital development, and infrastructure costs needed to provide services to persons with mental retardation or psychiatric disabilities.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage