HARTFORD—Members of the House Republican caucus are raising concern about a proposed amendment to the CT Practice Book that would shift thresholds in the state’s cash bail system and make it easier for individuals facing serious criminal charges to get out of jail while their court cases are pending.
The proposed amendment CT Practice Book section 38-8 (Ten Percent Cash Bail) would increase the maximum limit of bonds that can be posted through the court clerk’s office to $50,000 from $20,000 while also lowering the percentage the individual would be required to pay to seven percent from 10 percent.
The CT Practice Book contains the rules of professional conduct for attorneys, the rules for Superior Court, the Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys, and Rules of Appellate Procedure. The Practice Book change will be subject of a May 8 public hearing scheduled by the Rules Committee of the Superior Court. House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora and state Rep. Pat Callahan, a retired chief probation officer for the state’s Judicial Branch, submitted testimony to the court committee this week in opposition to the change.
Candelora, of North Branford, said Thursday that Connecticut is engulfed in a crime crisis and has urged court committee members to pause making changes to the state’s bail system until the legislature sets policy on the issue through pending legislation.
“Whether it be car-jackings of defenseless, elderly women in West Hartford, Wethersfield or Hamden, or heinous driveway assaults such as the recent crime in Rocky Hill that gained national attention, every day residents awake to headlines and television reports that raise alarm about the types of crime they’re unaccustomed to seeing in their communities,” Candelora said. “The last thing that residents, let alone crime victims, expect to see is our Judicial system make life easier for criminals. Yet, that’s exactly what the proposed practice book changes on bail would do.”
Callahan, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said Thursday that even the current thresholds allowing bonds to be posted through the court clerk’s office are problematic because, unlike when a professional bondsman is used, there’s no mechanism that ensures defendants who fail to appear in court are arrested and presented in court within a certain time. What’s more, New Fairfield resident Callahan said there is no effort by the state to collect the remainder of the bond.
“The pretrial population has only increased through previous changes that led to the system as we know it today, and I fear that problem will only grow though this proposed amendment and place more stress on our judicial system while making our communities less safe,” Callahan said. “A change of this magnitude should be considered by the legislature, the body in direct conversation with the people whose voices usually go unheard on these issues—victims and residents who are fed up with crime in their communities.”