Yesterday, the Judiciary Committee made available the 14 proposals submitted by various lawmakers to reform the criminal justice system. I’ll go through each one in later posts. First up, though, is the proposal submitted [pdf] by the Judiciary Committee co-chairs, which has already received some press coverage.
First, Burglary in the First Degree is amended to include an element called “home invasion”. Home invasion is defined as:
a person “commits a home invasion” when such person enters a dwelling while a person other than a participant in the crime is actually present in the dwelling with intent to commit a crime therein and such dwelling, at the time of such entry, is not open to the public and the actor is not otherwise licensed or privileged to enter such dwelling.
So basically, with this amendment, a burglary would be a home invasion, which is a burglary, unless no one is actually present in which case it is a burglary.
This bill also removes the “at night” requirement for a burglary in the second degree. It also makes burglary in the first degree a persistent felony offense and removes judicial discretion in sentencing the defendant under that statute.
The bill then requires that judges put their reasons for setting bail on the record “and the findings that it made as to the danger, if any, that the arrested person might pose to the safety of any other person upon the arrested person’s release that caused the court to impose the specific conditions of release that it imposed.” I hope there’s funding for more beds at the local jails, because you’re going to see higher bonds.
Strangely, this proposal also permits the DOC, the Board of Parole of Court Support Services to apply for a sentence modification on behalf of a non-violent defendant. This would be rendered moot if they just legislated that prosecutors shouldn’t be so bull-headed about agreeing to modifications.
There’s also a proposal in there to create a new “SHIELD” electronic information system that will provide state-of-the-art communication between all criminal justice agencies. This system will allow all front line state criminal justice officials to have instant electronic access to police reports; pre-sentence investigations; sentencing transcripts; and prison, parole, and probation files.”
There’s also $260 million in funding for two news prisons: a medium security prison and a mental health prison.
Finally, there’s a requirement that probation make available on the internet all outstanding warrant information. The New Haven Register article above has this quote:
Lawlor said if the law passes, people will be able to access an individual’s conviction information online, including criminal records and police reports
but I don’t see it in the proposal. If that is the case, there are severe problems with that.
All in all, I don’t care either way about most of the proposals, except building new prisons and the whole “burglary = home invasion = burglary (-person) = burglary” bit.