For the second year in row, Governor Dannel Malloy has proposed eliminating cash bail for non-violent offenders, specifically young people who may have been accused of committing a crime for the first time.
The measure, in addition to its attempt at criminal justice reform, is being billed as a savings generator by Malloy. His office projects that the move could save the state as much as $30 million in the next budget.
"No one should be sitting behind bars, simply because they are poor,” Malloy said during a hearing on the subject in the Legislative Office Building. It’s rare for a governor to appeal directly in such a way, which he acknowledged, calling the sight of him sitting, in a similar way to members of the general public, testifying and answering questions before lawmakers.
"I want young people earning a college education, not an education in how to be a better criminal,” Malloy added.
The governor’s foe on this issue is the bail bonds industry in the state. The group was successful in killing the measure last year, as it never made its way to the governor’s desk for his signature.
The arguments the Connecticut Bail Association last year are similar to the ones being deployed in 2017.
“It will eradicate us as an industry,” said Andrew Marocchini, the president of the association said. He’s also a bail bondsman in Manchester.
Marocchini argues that the governor’s logic and statistics are flawed. The governor quoted state prison figures Monday that showed more than 500 people are in jail with bonds worth less than $2,000.
Marocchini said such statistics have been cherrypicked, and says many of those people are not first time offenders. He also doesn’t think those people simply can’t afford to be released.
"No one is in jail who is a low level offender that just simply can't afford bond,” he said.
The governor says the issue of repeat offenders is part of his entire point. He says if people remain in jail simply because they can’t afford to get out, then they will likely return, meaning taxpayers would have to spend $168 per night to house them, leading to costs in the millions, and an increase in recidivism.
"Ninety-five percent of people come out of jail sooner or later,” Malloy said. “I'd rather they come out less likely to commit another crime, than more likely to commit another crime."