Gov. Dannel Malloy has proposed a reform to the state’s bail system and the bill would eliminate bail for misdemeanors or significantly decrease bail amounts, while expanding the juvenile court age.
One of the proposals would raise the age of what the courts consider a juvenile, which is currently 17 years old, to 21 years old by the year 2019.
Low-risk offenders in that age group would be tried in the juvenile justice system, not as adults.
Jonathan Quesada was convicted of assault when he was 18 years-old and he's now 29. If that bill had existed when he was convicted in 2004, Quesada’s conviction would have been wiped from his record.
“It’s carried on to my adult record and it’s preventing me from getting employment -- a career with benefits -- now at the age of 29. I went through all my rehabilitation, reintegration process and having committed no crimes and yet again he’s still being convicted,” said Quesada, who now runs a home improvement business because it's been difficult for him to find a job outside of doing labor work.
“We’re trying to make sure for people who make mistakes -- 18, 19, 20 years old -- that they’re not necessarily having their lives ruined,” said Mike Lawlor, secretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning.
State Senator John Kissell said his concern is whether there would be enough accountability for the people who commit crimes.
"So right now we’re saying, ‘Oh we’re going to make an exception for 18, 19, 20 year olds. Where does that ever end?" Kissell asked.
“I believe this bill will definitely give them a chance to get a second view on life,” Quesada said.