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State Senator

Steve Cassano

Representing Andover, Bolton, Glastonbury & Manchester

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Cassano Endorses Senate Democrats’ Criminal Justice, Gun Safety, Voting Rights Agenda

Today, State Senator Steve Cassano (D-Manchester) gave his endorsement to the Senate Democrats’ announcement of “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. Cassano include:

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

“Criminal justice reform is a vital need in our state, and these proposed bills will work to protect our vulnerable populations and help those who have themselves been reformed find new opportunity,” said Sen. Cassano. “Those who have served their sentences and come out of the criminal justice system dedicated to improving themselves deserve opportunities to put their past behind them. Extending restraining orders helps those who are at risk, as does giving children of immigrants, who often can’t defend themselves, proper legal counsel. Requiring the disclosure of certain pieces of evidence makes sure defendants receive the opportunity to fairly defend themselves as well. We should try to do what we can to always improve our justice system.”

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.

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 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, is 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

“Everyone in Connecticut deserves the right to vote how they want, but all too often, our voting laws restrict them from doing so,” said Sen. Cassano. “College students shouldn’t have to take time out of their studies to travel, sometimes for miles, just to cast a ballot. Hard-working voters who can’t find time outside of work, family or other challenges in their daily schedule should have more chances to make their voices heard. If more people vote, our legislature can properly represent the public.”

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 threaten public safety and contribute to crime, causing countless tragedies that could have been avoided,” said Sen. Cassano. “By enacting this legislation, we can work to take unregistered guns off the street without impacting legal gun owners. It’s a simple action we can take that can save lives, so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t.”

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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