Criminal Justice Bills Passed in 2021

During the 2021 legislative session, we witnessed the passing of an unprecedented number of bills that continue the reinvention of the criminal justice system in Connecticut.

Community Partners in Action supported the advocacy efforts for several of these bills and applauds the many organizations whose leadership was instrumental in getting those bills passed. On June 11th, the CT Mirror’s Kelan Lyons wrote the article, “Criminal justice reform in the 2021 legislative session.” The following highlights several of the bills discussed in his story:

Passing Clean Slate:

Clean Slate was one of the marquee justice bills passed this session. This bill will automatically erase certain misdemeanors and low-level felonies if a person stays conviction-free for a certain number of years. Read more from the ACLU-CT.

Providing Free Phone Calls from Prison:

Connecticut is now the first state in the country to allow free phone calls for people in prison. Up until now, a person had to pay up to $5 for a 15-minute call. Read more from Worth Rises.

Restoring Voting Rights to People On Parole:

Connecticut citizens on parole are now eligible to vote. Read more from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Some of the Leading Advocates
for the Bills:

ACLU Smart Justice Campaign
CT Reentry
CT Sentencing
CT Community Nonprofit Alliance
Full Citizen Coalition
Unlock the Vote
Stop Solitary CT
CT Justice Alliance
CONECT (Congregations Organized for a New CT)

….and many more.

Expanding the Definition of Domestic Violence:

The definition of domestic violence was expanded to include “coercive control. This allows a person to request the court to vacate their charge if they committed those crimes because they were a human trafficking victim, among other things. Read More from the CT House Democrats.

Ending Prison Gerrymandering:

People incarcerated in Connecticut will now be counted in their home communities when determining redistricting instead of where they are incarcerated. Prison gerrymandering inflates the power of the districts where prisons are located. Read more from Yale Law School.

Redefining Drug-Free Zones:

The new measure reduces the size of drug-free zones to 200 feet. Up until now, possession or sale of drugs within 1,500 feet of school zones, daycare centers, and public housing projects would result in a more severe penalty. Those zones were so large that they blanketed entire cities and, which did not serve as a deterrent. Read More from the CT General Assembly (page 40).

Raising the Age of Arrest:

The youngest age of arrest was raised from age 7 to 10. Read More from the CT Justice Alliance.

Limiting the Use of Solitary Confinement*:

Solitary confinement in CT Prisons will no longer be allowed for prolonged periods. In addition, anyone in prison, including those in solitary confinement, will be allowed time out of their cell for at least two hours a day. Read More from the Office of Governor Ned Lamont.

(*The PROTECT Act severely limiting prolonged isolation was passed by the CT State Legislature, but was vetoed by Gov. Lamont, who instead issued an Executive Order regarding Solitary Confinement.)