PA 09-10, September 2009 Special Session—HB 7006 (VETOED)

Emergency Certification

AN ACT IMPLEMENTING CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF THE BUDGET CONCERNING GENERAL GOVERNMENT

SUMMARY: This act:

1. prohibits certain reductions required by the budget act from the Judicial Department's Other Expenses account;

2. re-distributes $700,000 in the budget act in each of the next two fiscal years from the Department of Correction (DOC) for Children of Incarcerated Parents to the (a) Judicial Branch for a memorandum of understanding (MOU) the act requires it to enter into with Central Connecticut State University for research and programs regarding children with incarcerated parents ($650,000) and (b) Connecticut Pardon Team, Inc. to help individuals apply for pardons ($50,000) ( 2);

3. extends for two years, through June 30, 2011, the moratorium on the sale, lease, or transfer of 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;

4. creates a 23-member Connecticut Sentencing Commission to review the existing criminal sentencing structure and any proposed changes; and

5. requires the public works commissioner to sell the former Seaside Regional Center in Waterford at fair market value, regardless of any other law.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

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

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

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

The act requires the Judicial Branch and Connecticut Central State University to enter into a MOU by December 1, 2009, for the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy to (1) conduct research, evaluation, outreach, and public policy development regarding children with incarcerated parents and (2) create and implement programs for such children, which can include programs to reunify incarcerated women with their children in the community.

4 — SALE OF GROUP HOMES AND TREATMENT FACILITIES

The act extends for two years, through June 30, 2011, the moratorium on the sale, lease, or transfer of 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. Under prior law, the moratorium ended on June 30, 2009.

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

5 — CONNECTICUT SENTENCING COMMISSION

The act 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 (OPM) for administrative purposes only.

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

Ex-Officio Members

The act makes the following officials members of the commission with terms coterminous with their terms 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. OPM's Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division undersecretary; and

6. victim advocate.

Appointed Members

The act 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

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

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

Reappointments and Vacancies

Under the act, 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 act 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 act 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 act 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. recommend criminal justice legislation to the Judiciary Committee, which must hold a hearing on it.

Information

The act 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 act 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 act authorizes and directs the officers and employees of those entities to cooperate with the commission and to furnish requested records, information, and assistance.

The act provides that any statutorily confidential record or information given to the commission 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 act 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.

6 — SALE OF SEASIDE REGIONAL CENTER

The act 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 selected by the commissioner.

The sale is subject to State Properties Review Board approval. The act 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 act 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 people with mental retardation or psychiatric disabilities.

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.

OLR TRACKING: CR: SS/RP/PF/DF