Connecticut Judiciary Committee Approves Bill Authorizing Reviews of Sentences for Some Juvenile Offenders

Photo by Marc Tomik

Photo by Marc Tomik

This week, members of Connecticut’s joint judiciary committee approved House Bill 6581, a piece of legislation that would grant automatic reviews for individuals given sentences in excess of 10 years and were under the age of 18 at the time the crimes were committed.

The bill is a response to last year’s Miller v. Alabama ruling, and part of a larger package of state reforms recommended by a commission of Connecticut’s prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges. The legislation will now proceed to a vote on the floor of the state’s House of Representatives.

Judiciary Committee Co-Chairman Gerry Fox (D-Stamford) toldThe Hartford Courant that while the proposed legislation gives inmates an opportunity for release from prison, the measure by no means would result in the automatic release of the state’s juvenile offenders.

“This does not say that these inmates would definitely get out of prison,” Rep. Fox is quoted. "What it does, is allow them the possibility of getting out of prison.”

Rep. Fox continued, stating that the basis for the measure is that juveniles are at a “point in their lives when the acts that they committed would warrant a second look.”

Ranking Republican of the joint judiciary committee, Sen. John Kissel, told the Hartford Courant that more time is necessary to mull the legislation. He said that his opinion of the bill was heavily swayed by hearing victim testimonies at a public hearing held earlier this year.

“I recognize that the United States Supreme Court [compels] the states to bring their statutes to comport with [Miller v. Alabama], but at the time, I’m not comfortable with what we have before us,” he is quoted. “It’s amazing to me that any human being could do these things to other human beings … I don’t care how old they are.”

 

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