Photo of Senator Abrams.

State Senator

Mary Daugherty Abrams

Representing Cheshire, Meriden, Middletown, Middlefield, Rockfall

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Abrams Supports Proposed Criminal Justice, Gun Safety, Voting Rights Reforms

Today, State Senator Mary Abrams (D-Meriden, Middlefield, Rockfall, Middletown, Cheshire) stood alongside the Senate Democrats as they announced “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. Abrams include:

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

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.

“Immigrant children deserve proper representation, and as such, this bill would give them the support they need,” said Sen. Abrams. “By protecting these children, we treat them with the fairness and dignity they deserve.”

  • 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.

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.

“Under current state law, a temporary restraining order filed against someone while that person is in jail can possibly expire,” said Sen. Abrams. “If we want to protect our citizens, we need to keep those orders active and effective for as long as possible.”

  • 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 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.

“If an individual has proven they have put their past behind them after committing a nonviolent crime, we should allow them to truly seize the second chance they have earned,” said Sen. Abrams. “To allow these individuals to expunge their criminal records will allow them to better reintegrate into the community and become productive members of society. Nonviolent offenders of certain crimes deserve a shot at redemption.”

  • There is a strong correlation between housing and employment and the likelihood 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

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.

“We can make it easier for everyone in Connecticut to get out the vote, and we should take that opportunity,” said Sen. Abrams. “Families and workers will directly benefit from additional chances to cast their ballots, while college students have so much on their plates already that making them travel miles just to vote detracts from their educations,” said Sen. Abrams. “These are unnecessary inconvenience that we can easily change with this bill.”

GUN SAFETY

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.

“Far too many tragedies could have been avoided by the implementation of simple, sensible gun laws like this one,” said Sen. Abrams. “We should make it our priority to close all loopholes that could let untraceable, untrackable guns fall into the hands of those who only wish to do harm with them. Ghost guns have no place in Connecticut.”

  • 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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