PA 15-109—sSB 1114

Judiciary Committee

Government Administration and Elections Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE COMMISSION ON RACIAL AND ETHNIC DISPARITY IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM AND THE REMOVAL OF THE TERMS "CRIPPLED" AND "DEFECTIVE EYESIGHT" FROM THE GENERAL STATUTES

SUMMARY: This act makes several changes in the composition, duties, scheduling, and reporting requirements of the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparity in the Criminal Justice System. Among other things, it:

1. increases, from 21 to 22, the commission's membership by adding the Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission chairperson;

2. requires the commission to meet quarterly, and when the chairperson deems necessary, instead of only when the commission deems necessary;

3. establishes the commission's mission;

4. eliminates existing duties and creates new ones generally expanding the commission's focus beyond the juvenile justice system to the whole criminal justice system; and

5. eliminates the prior annual reporting requirement and replaces it with new biennial reporting requirements starting by January 1, 2017.

The act also updates obsolete terminology used in various statutes to describe individuals with certain disabilities. Generally, it replaces the terms “crippled” and “defective eyesight” with “physical disabilities” and “visual impairments,” respectively.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015

COMMISSION'S MISSION

Under the act, the commission must address the overrepresentation of racial and ethnic minorities in the state's criminal justice system, with particular attention to African-Americans and Latinos, including consideration of the impact of such racial and ethnic disparity on minority communities.

DUTIES

The act eliminates the commission's prior duties and, instead, requires it to:

1. sponsor conferences, forums, and educational and training programs on the causes, effects, and implications of racial and ethnic disparity in the state's criminal justice system;

2. collaborate with national, state, and local organizations and institutions to identify strategies for reducing racial and ethnic disparity in the state's criminal justice system;

3. develop, evaluate, and recommend promising and emerging policies and practices, including recommending any implementing legislation;

4. (a) determine whether any statutory provision negatively impacts racial and ethnic disparity in the state's criminal justice system and (b) recommend to the governor and legislature statutory changes to reduce the impact;

5. make recommendations to the governor, legislature, and state and local agencies and organizations on implementing any such strategy, policy, practice, or legislative change; and

6. assess the impact of implementing these strategies, policies, practices, or legislative changes.

The commission's duties under prior law included, among other things:

1. developing and recommending policies to reduce the number of minority individuals in the criminal justice system;

2. examining the impact of statutes and policies on any such disparities, including researching and gathering statistical data on their impact;

3. developing and recommending training programs for criminal justice system personnel;

4. preparing annual comprehensive plans to reduce racial and ethnic disparity and the number of minority individuals in the juvenile justice system;

5. analyzing the key stages in the juvenile justice system to determine any stage where there is disparate impact; and

6. annually preparing and distributing a juvenile justice plan to reduce the number of minority individuals in the juvenile justice system.

REPORTING

Under prior law, the commission had to report to the legislature, annually by January 1st, on the additional resources that should be made available to reduce racial and ethnic disparity in the criminal justice system without affecting public safety. The act instead requires the commission, starting by January 1, 2017 and biennially after that, to report to the governor and legislature on its activities and accomplishments since the previous report.

OLR Tracking: MK; KD; PF; BS