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Hartford, Conn. Mayor Luke Bronin Supports Second Chance Society 2.0

Hartford, Conn. (March 23, 2016) – Today, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin testified before the Connecticut General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Judiciary regarding a bill that’s been coined as Second Chance Society 2.0 (SB 18). 

Here’s the full-text of his comments in support of the bill:

Chairman Coleman, Chairman Tong, Ranking Members Kissel and Rebimbas, and members of the Judiciary Committee:

Thank you for the opportunity to testify here before you today. I want to express my strong support for Senate Bill 18 – An Act Concerning a Second Chance Society.

Last year, the Second Chance Society initiative – supported by this committee, both chambers of the General Assembly, and signed into law by Governor Malloy – established Connecticut as a national leader in common sense criminal justice reform, reducing the penalties for mere drug possession and expediting the parole and pardon process for low-risk offenders.

The bill being considered today – coined Second Chance Society 2.0 – builds on last year’s historic reforms, and continues the important effort to ensure that past mistakes, particularly those made in youth, do not represent a permanent and insurmountable barrier to employment and opportunity. 

For too long, our state – like many others – has incarcerated too many individuals. The cost of over-incarcerating non-violent offenders is high, not only for the State, which spends $43,000 annually for incarcerating individuals, but for the families and the communities most directly affected, too. Nearly two-thirds of those incarcerated remain unemployed after being released, and those who find employment receive 40 percent less than those without a criminal record.

If enacted, SB 18 would decrease the number of low-risk, non-violent individuals held in pre-trial detention. Research shows that individuals who are held in jail for 8 to 14 days are over fifty percent more likely to recidivate. This is often because such individuals are likely to lose their job or housing while in jail, unable to make bail. Jail time should be a function of the severity of the crime and the risk the individual poses to society, not a function of an individual’s financial capacity to post bail. 

Additionally, this bill would allow offenders under the age of 20 to be tried in the juvenile justice system rather than adult court and permanently seal their records until after sentence completion. This measure would complement other reforms proposed this legislative session like HB 5237 and SB 430 that recognize past mistakes should not be a permanent barrier to opportunity.

While we’ve made significant progress towards ending the cycle of permanent punishment in Connecticut, we can do better. This bill builds on that progress and moves Connecticut one step closer to being a true second chance society.

I encourage all of you to join me in supporting this legislation.

Respectfully Submitted,

Luke Bronin

Mayor of Hartford

 

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