The Yankee Institute issued the following statement on bail reform in Connecticut:

The Yankee Institute supports reforming the pre-trial system in our state to make it both more responsive to the need for public safety as well as to reduce spending on low-risk arrestees.

Although we have not seen the final language of the “Second Chance 2.0” bill, originally Senate Bill 18, we do recommend a move away from a cash bail system to the use of a data-driven risk assessment tool to determine the best individualized approach for each defendant.

Earlier this year the Yankee Institute published a policy brief on this subject in conjunction with the Reason Foundation called, “Reforming the Constitution State’s Pre-Trial System.”

Right now, whether your bail is $1,000 or $1 million, your detention is largely determined by your ability to pay. Instead, we should focus our efforts on keeping the riskiest defendants in jail, while using alternative methods to monitor less risky individuals.

The goals in any reform of our pre-trial system should be to keep the public safe while also respecting an individual’s constitutional rights. We also need to be mindful of the cost of detaining individuals who may not pose a threat to public safety, and of those who are charged with crimes that wouldn’t warrant incarceration post conviction.

In our paper, we propose a system that would categorize arrestees as low-, moderate- and high-risk. The options for dealing with those arrestees are as follows:

    • Low-risk offenders who are unlikely to commit additional crimes and are likely to return for their court dates would be released on their own recognizance.
    • The state or the private sector can manage defendants placed into a moderate-risk category with tools such as supervision, electronic monitoring, or other interventions as an alternative to cash bail.
    • Those individuals deemed high-risk arrestees should remain in jail until trial.

For more information, contact Suzanne Bates: suzanne@yankeeinstitute.org, (860) 422-5990

Lauren Krisai of the Reason Foundation is another resource for information about bail reform in Connecticut and nationally: Lauren.Krisai@Reason.org

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