As I am sure you are aware, Governor's Bill HB 7044 AAC Pretrial Justice Reform was introduced in early February. As originally drafted, the bill would have had catastrophic ramifications to our industry. It included language that eliminated bail on all misdemeanors except domestic violence or current FTA, created a default 10% cash option on ALL bail, required the payment of forfeitures within 45 days and many other stipulations that were not good for our industry. The bill would have eliminated bail bonds within Connecticut.
After significant work by our Association, Jeff Clayton of the American Bail Coalition
, Gaffney-Bennett and Associates
(our counsel) David Cappiello from The Capitol Hill Group
and Nick Wichinski of Lexington National
; and legislative leaders of the Judiciary Committee who brought all parties, including the governor's office and the sentencing commission, to the table to negotiate in bi-partisan effort, to address the needs of the indigent and preserve the bail system within our state. These collective efforts led to the Judiciary Committee passing HB 7044 yesterday with substitute language by a vote of 23 to 15.
The new language within the bill, 1) requires the judge to make a finding on the record of a “likely” risk that the defendant will FTA, obstruct justice, threaten or intimidate, or engage in conduct that threatens the safety of him or herself or another person for misdemeanors; 2) allows for the court to consider past criminal history and prior FTA when making a finding on the record; 3) does not contain the previously proposed language which would have codified 10% cash as the default option; 4) prohibits Cash Only Bail; 5) provides for a second bail hearing 14 days after arraignment; 6) and provides a study to review how our industry can create a fund to assist identified indigent population. Members of the study will include our Association, the Sentencing Commission and Governor Malloy's Under Secretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning.
We applaud the efforts of Governor Malloy and his staff for finding a path to preserve the 1,000 plus jobs in our industry while ensuring no one is incarcerated simply because they are poor. As this issue continues to progress within the legislative process, we will keep you informed.
Bail Association of Connecticut.