Governor Lamont Hails Senate Passage of Bill on Prosecutorial Transparency, Urges House Action
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont is applauding the Connecticut State Senate for unanimously voting last night to approve legislation he proposed in consultation with stakeholders that will improve data collection in the criminal justice system in order to provide the public with greater information regarding how prosecutors make decisions in criminal cases. These include the screening and charging of cases, pretrial and bail recommendations, diversion to programs, case processing, plea negotiations, and sentencing recommendations.
“With these reforms, we can provide the public with greater transparency that will help increase the confidence that communities have in the criminal justice system and enable prosecutors to tell their stories using data in state policy, budget, and planning discussions,” Governor Lamont said. “Prosecutors play a crucial role in criminal cases from start to finish. This data will provide insight into the front end of the system, which has historically been a ‘black box’ and will help ensure that justice is attained in the fairest ways possible. I want to thank the bipartisan members of the Senate for voting to approve this bill, and I urge the House to consider adopting this as quickly as possible so I can sign it into law.”
The legislation requires the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) to begin immediately collecting and analyzing existing prosecutorial data within the criminal justice system, and to present an analysis of such data to the Criminal Justice Commission no later than July 1, 2020. Starting in 2021, the Division of Criminal Justice, in consultation with the Department of Correction, the Judicial Branch, and the Criminal Justice Information System Governing Board, is required to provide detailed data to OPM relating to charges, diversionary programs, bail requests, plea deals, contact with victims, sentencing recommendations, and demographics. OPM is to incorporate that new data into its analysis and presentation in July 2021, and annually thereafter.
The bill also requires the Chief Public Defender to establish a pilot program for the provision of legal representation services to people at parole violation hearings to ensure that parolees who are indigent have help navigating the violation hearing process, and requires the Board of Pardons and Paroles to report on data relating to parole revocation hearings generally.
Finally, the legislation requires that Criminal Justice Commission meetings be held at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford and that it offer the public a chance to testify any time it meets to appoint, reappoint, remove, or discipline the chief state’s attorney, a deputy chief state’s attorney, or a state’s attorney.
The legislation – which has the support of the ACLU of Connecticut, the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney, the Office of the Chief Public Defender, the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence, and the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, among others – is Senate Bill 880, An Act Increasing Fairness and Transparency in the Criminal Justice System. It will next be transmitted to the House for their consideration before it can be sent to the governor for his signature and enacted into law.