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State Senator

Will Haskell

Representing Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, Wilton

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Haskell Endorses “A Just Connecticut” Senate Agenda

Today, State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport) endorsed the announcement of the Senate Democrats’ “A Just Connecticut,” the first of four legislative agendas for the 2019 legislative session. The series of bills outline the policy proposals from Senate Democrats to reform the state’s criminal justice system, strengthen gun safety protections, and expand voting rights.

The legislative proposals in the “A Just Connecticut” agenda introduced by Sen. Haskell include:

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

“Reforming our criminal justice system is crucial to building a fair and safe society,” said Sen. Haskell. “By preventing temporary restraining orders from expiring after their subjects are released from custody, we can help keep the brave individuals who filed those orders safe. By providing immigrant children, who cannot defend themselves, with legal counsel, we give them increased security and prevent them from being discriminated against in the legal system.”

Senate Bill 689: An Act Concerning Tolling Temporary Restraining Orders (SB 689)
To continue a temporary restraining order after the person alleged to be a threat is released from jail or custody.

  • It is possible that a restraining order is issued when the alleged abuser is in jail, or that the alleged abuser is arrested and in jail during the days prior to the hearing. If there is no hearing, which can be complicated by the alleged abuser’s arrest, then the restraining order can expire.
  • The bill would toll (delay) the time between issuing the restraining order and the hearing by one day for each day that the alleged abuser is in custody of law enforcement.

Senate Bill 654: An Act Concerning A Right to Counsel for Immigrant Children
To ensure children of immigrants are represented in issues regarding their well-being.

  • In FY 2018, there were 971 filings initiated in Connecticut for juvenile deportation proceedings. Largest represented countries of origin were Guatemala (309), Honduras (152), and Brazil (152). 716 of those individuals, or 78 percent, were not represented by counsel.
  • California; Washington; and Denver, Colorado have allocated funding for legal representation of immigrants.
  • New Jersey recently allocated $2.1 million for legal representation of immigrants.
  • The bill would establish a new program to provide legal counsel to undocumented minors. Roughly $800,000 a year would be needed.

“Every day, children in school pledge allegiance to a flag that promises freedom and justice for all,” Sen. Haskell said. “It’s time we live up to that promise. We can never lose sight of the fact that incarcerated people are people, and we must ensure protect dignity and integrity at every stage of the criminal justice system.”

Senate Bill 653: An Act Concerning Open File Disclosure in Criminal Cases
To require prosecuting officials to automatically disclose certain pieces of evidence in criminal cases.

  • Adoption of automatic discovery, so that overworked defense attorneys do not need to make requests for the most common document requests. State Attorneys will be required to disclose certain materials.
  • Ensuring all materials in the state’s possession, not just the prosecutor’s, are shared with the defendant.
  • Requiring all materials with the ability to prove innocence or lessen the penalty of a crime be shared with the defendant before being asked to enter into a plea bargain.
  • Discovery standards that are uniform across the state, and do not vary by judicial district.

Senate Bill 691: An Act Concerning Expungement of Criminal Records
To create a system of expungement of criminal records for offenders that have remained crime-free for a significant period following the end of his or her sentence.

  • There is a strong correlation between housing and employment and the like hood that a convicted person will reoffend. The sad truth is that a person’s criminal record makes it unfairly more difficult to acquire housing and employment.
  • The bill would automatically expunge (destroy) or erase (seal and prohibit public access to) certain criminal records if an offender does not re-offend within a designated number of years from release

VOTING RIGHTS

“Voting is a right, not a privilege. By expanding voting rights, we can bolster our democratic process and make sure every voice has a seat at the table,” said Sen. Haskell. “By giving additional opportunities for voters to head to the polls, citizens of all ages can more easily and effectively cast their ballot in the privacy of a ballot box, and by expanding collegiate access to polling locations, we avoid disenfranchising our younger generations.”

Senate Joint Resolution 14: A Resolution Proposing an Amendment to the State Constitution to Allow for Early Voting
To amend the Constitution of the State of Connecticut to allow for in person voting for a period prior to Election Day.

Senate Bill 266: An Act Concerning Ballot Access for Students on College and University Campuses
To provide polling locations on college and university campuses for students to make it easier for students to vote.

GUN SAFETY

“Ghost guns have no place in Connecticut,” Sen. Haskell said. “Connecticut must serve as a laboratory of change and courage when it comes to strong gun laws. By closing this loophole and requiring firearms to have a serial number, we can empower law enforcement officers to reduce gun violence.”

Senate Bill 655: An Act Concerning Ghost Guns
To ensure the sale of firearms adhere to serial number requirements and to close loopholes contributing to the illegal possession of firearms.

  • Without a serial number, law enforcement cannot run a search on a gun, making it impossible to determine chain of custody.
  • Bill would close loopholes by banning guns that do not have serial numbers and prohibit the sale of any materials or services that permit the construction of guns outside the regulated marketplace.

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