By Nick Wing
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy on Wednesday signed a bill into law that will overhaul the state’s bail system and keep poor defendants from serving unnecessary jail time before trial simply because they can’t afford to pay their way out.
House Bill 7044 received wide bipartisan support, passing by substantial margins in both chambers of the state legislature earlier this month. In a signing statement, Malloy hailed the measure, saying it would address the “unintended consequences” of a pretrial justice system that has had adverse effects on public safety.
The effect of a few days of detention for people who have been accused of misdemeanors and not released simply because they do not have the ability to pay can be devastating and far reaching ― possibly leading to the loss of employment and housing, which only exacerbates the kind of instability that can lead to a life of crime,” he said. “If we want to continue the progress we’ve made in lowering crime, reducing recidivism and making our communities safer, then we must focus on what happens at the front-end of the justice system.”
The new law, which will take effect in July, bars courts from assigning money bail to misdemeanor defendants, except in cases involving family violence or in which an individual has been determined to be a flight risk, or likely to obstruct justice or harm themselves or someone else.