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Republicans Outline Proposals to Make Connecticut Safer
Posted on March 1, 2023
HARTFORD—In advance of a series of Judiciary Committee public hearings next week, House and Senate Republicans on Wednesday outlined proposals aimed at making Connecticut safer while urging Democrats to veer from their lopsided approach to public safety that does little to deter crime.
“Last year, after speaking with police, community leaders, prosecutors, public defenders, and youth advocates, Senate Republicans offered our Better Way to a Safer Connecticut plan,” said Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly. “Ours was a holistic, multi-pronged approach. Justice reforms and opportunity must go hand in hand. You cannot address one without the other. A Safer Connecticut starts with an economy that can support jobs and housing, build hope, and create a path to success for young people. It starts with proactive policing, appropriate consequences for high-risk repeat offenders, and ensuring our justice system has the tools to successfully rehabilitate. A Safer Connecticut involves improving access to safe housing, it requires a focus on workforce development and creating pathways to prosperity, and it even involves access to more affordable health care. Republicans continue to press for holistic policies to keep our residents safe and through a thoughtful, multi-faceted approach. That’s what it’s going to take, and we need the public to speak out.”
“Like many of my Republican colleagues, I entered this legislative session with the concerns of so many Connecticut residents at the top of mind, people who understandably want more balance in our criminal justice system that effectively coddles those who break the law,” House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora said. “We’ve offered bills that would nudge our state toward that practical goal by addressing some of the state’s most pressing public safety issues. While some of our proposals will receive hearings soon, I do fear that any citizen who wants deterrence, accountability or an overdue focus on victims’ rights will be disappointed by a Democratic majority that appears unwilling to deviate from its ‘smart on crime’ policies that have done little to make our communities safer.”
It’s expected that Republican proposals will receiving hearings over the next two weeks, and the committee’s Ranking Members are committed to pressing their Democratic colleagues to advance them.
“Allowing law enforcement to provide Connecticut residents with the safety they expect and deserve means we must stop pretending everything is fine, and do more as a legislature to pass laws that truly hold the dangerous individuals causing havoc in our communities accountable,” Rep. Craig Fishbein and Sen. John A. Kissel, House and Senate Ranking Members on the Judiciary Committee said. “Republicans have consistently pressed for stronger protections for Connecticut citizens, and we look forward to working with our colleagues on the Judiciary Committee and the administration to further refine and implement more commonsense policies, including those regarding domestic violence, juvenile crime, bail reform, and supporting our police.”
Time and time again, Connecticut wakes up to horrific headlines in which victims of domestic violence are repeatedly terrorized and, often, killed by a family member or intimate partner. We proposeincreasing the penalty on murders committed during an act of domestic violence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Further, we propose enhancing protections for the surviving victims, including an expansion of GPS monitoring of the most dangerous domestic violence offenders.
Teen-aged juvenile offenders have been terrorizing CT for years, but the pandemic only exacerbated the issue. Incidents of motor vehicle thefts, in particular, are a major problem. Often these crimes, perpetrated by those who aren’t even old enough to drive, take bystanders as collateral damage. Be it a toddler in the backseat during a carjacking or a grandmother struck in the crosswalk during a joyride, these are far from simple property crimes. Unfortunately, CT’s culture of coddling offenders while disregarding victims has led to an “injustice system” in which offenders will be able to have a “clean slate” and have their criminal record erased within a few short years. Among our proposals:
Expand the circumstances in which a juvenile is automatically transferred to the regular criminal docket, including commission of a serious juvenile offense.
Reestablish the family with service needs program to provide diversion services for children who are beyond control, runaways or truant from school.
Commonsense Bail Reform
Connecticut’s bail system has been under assault from the courts and legislative Democrats. It’s no surprise that it has cracked under the pressure and let bad actors game the system. We propose streamlining the licensing system for bail bondsmen as well as imposing fiduciary standards on clients’ funds similar to those to which attorneys are held. The vast majority of bail bondsmen in CT are here to help, but we must hold the bad actors to account and ensure the criminal justice system is well-served.
Supporting Law Enforcement
Republicans have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with police since 2020’s partisan attack on their profession, livelihoods, and ability to proactively protect the communities in which they serve. We propose giving them back the tools they need to re-engage with proactive policing, such as the ability to request a driver’s consent to search their motor vehicle in order to get guns and drugs off the street, the ability to pursue offenders in cases of stolen vehicles or property, and the ability to litigate governmental immunity in a way that is fair to both sides.