Gov. Malloy Signs ‘Second Chance Society’ Bill to Further Reduce Crime and Successfully Re-Integrate Nonviolent Offenders into Society
(HARTFORD, CT) - Governor Dannel P. Malloy today joined lawmakers, state officials and advocates for a bill signing ceremony to commemorate the final passage into law of the "Second Chance Society" legislation the Governor introduced earlier this year. The package of initiatives is designed to continue the progress being made in reducing the state's dropping crime rate, which is at a 48-year low, as well as ensuring nonviolent offenders are successfully reintegrated into society and become productive workers in Connecticut's economy.
The legislation was approved late last month with a strong bipartisan vote in both chambers of the General Assembly.
"By signing this legislation into law, we are making real, systematic change to our state's crime fighting strategy. We can truly be tough on crime by being smart on crime," Governor Malloy said. "The cycle our system currently encourages - one of permanent punishment - hurts too many families and communities. When we should have been focusing on permanent reform, we focused on permanent punishment. For too long, we built modern jails instead of modern schools. Because this bill passed, Connecticut has taken a giant step into the future."
The Governor added, "Our law enforcement professionals and courts can focus on lowering crime even further by channeling efforts towards serious, violent criminals and putting them behind bars for longer sentences. And most of all, these initiatives are focused on turning nonviolent offenders into productive members of our society that can contribute to our economy, rather than drain it. Ultimately, this will make our communities safer, and will make for a brighter tomorrow in Connecticut."
Governor Malloy noted that the initiatives are similar to criminal justice policies being implemented in states throughout the country - both red and blue - and are supported by elected officials on both sides of the aisle.
Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said, "This legislation represents a new era in smarter criminal justice policy - initiatives we know are effective at driving down crime, keeping our neighborhoods safer, and ensuring ex-offenders become participants in our economy and assets in our communities."
The legislation takes action in several key areas:
- Reduces the penalty for possession of drugs from a felony with a seven-year maximum sentence (2 years mandatory if within 1,500 feet of a school or daycare center) to a misdemeanor with a maximum of one year in jail, no mandatory jail sentence.
- Establishes an expedited parole process for nonviolent, no-victim offenses. This will allow decisions to be made without the necessity of a formal hearing in order to ensure that all eligible prisoners have a hearing well in advance of their eligibility date.
- Establishes an expedited pardons process for ex-offenders in nonviolent, no-victim cases after a period of time following the end of their full sentence. The Board of Pardons will write regulations establishing the process, as required in the legislation. The bill also requires every offender to be provided with a plain-language explanation of how and when they are eligible to apply for a pardon at the time of sentencing, at the completion of probation, at release from prison, and at completion of parole supervision.
In addition, funding was approved in the adopted state budget the Governor signed last week to support three additional initiatives that are part of the "Second Chance Society." This includes:
- $1.4 million for I-Best, a model of intensive, job-based adult education and employment training for ex-offenders in the Hartford area that will lead to actual subsidized employment. This initiative will be expanded to other cities as resources allow in the future.
- $1 million per year to expand the existing School-Based Diversion Initiative (SBDI) to reduce suspensions, expulsions, and school-based arrests in K-12 schools. SBDI has been successful in a number of schools throughout the state and is helping to reduce the "school-to-prison pipeline."
- $1 million in the first year and $2 million in the second year for Connecticut Collaboration on Re-Entry, the expansion of a successful housing initiative targeting frequent users of substance abuse, mental health, and corrections programs.
The "Second Chance Society" initiatives build upon a series of criminal justice initiatives the State of Connecticut has implemented over the last four years that are having a strong impact on reducing crime in the state, including:
- Reforms to the juvenile justice system, working to close the school to prison pipeline
- Restoration of the state's crime lab to eliminate backlogs and restore it to best-in-the-nation status
- Integration of federal, state, and local law enforcement into communities through community policing and programs such as Project Longevity
- Removal of dangerous guns from the streets with gun buy backs, and approval of gun violence prevention legislation
- Targeting violent offenders in communities and putting them away for longer sentences
Statistics for Connecticut show that today, crime is at a 48-year low. Over the last four years, violent crime is down 36 percent and criminal arrests have decreased by nearly 28 percent. Violent crime in the state's three largest cities has fallen 15 percent since 2008.
The legislation is House Bill 7104.