More must be done to humanize Connecticut criminal justice

After months of tireless work to bring awareness to state legislators about the harm associated with solitary confinement, a bill was passed that doesn’t even scratch the surface of what must happen to humanize criminal justice in this state. When states as notorious for prisoner abuse as California and Texas are making changes in prisoner treatment, one must wonder why Connecticut is lagging behind.

Connecticut nearer the presumption of innocence, but not there yet

On June 6, the Connecticut State Legislature passed H.B. No. 7044, “An Act Concerning Pretrial Justice Reform,” which will limit the number of legally innocent people who are held in jail because they cannot pay bail. By prohibiting money bail in most misdemeanor cases, this bill will save lives. Hundreds of defendants who would have otherwise been incarcerated due to poverty alone can now defend themselves from a position of freedom without pleading guilty just to get out of jail. This is a critical step towards restoring the presumption of innocence in our court system.

Connecticut — It’s time to get on the right side of history

This month, Connecticut legislators will decide which side of history they will join. A pending bill currently in front of the Connecticut General Assembly would ban the use of solitary confinement against juveniles and people with severe mental illness or disabilities. Under H.B. 7302, Connecticut’s Department of Corrections also would have to report on its use of solitary confinement throughout the system. Given the well-known harms that come from locking a person up for 23 hours a day, these are good and important changes.

Dick Blumenthal’s leverage — Trolling Trump

There’s more than one kind of political leverage. There’s the kind you pull in the legislative process: bargaining, horse-trading, quid pro quo. There’s the kind you pull in swaying public opinion to pressure counterparts into dealing. Dick Blumenthal knows the difference.

Marijuana is bad, but let’s legalize it anyway

I don’t smoke pot. Never did (OK, five times—literally). So I don’t have (much) skin in the debate over legalizing marijuana. But I have been thinking about questions that could guide the debate. These questions aren’t about drug control, per se, but about the proper role of the government in regulating trade, morality and public health.

Connecticut getting smart on juvenile justice

You don’t teach trigonometry to third graders or spend time helping high school sophomores learn their colors. Educators have always understood that curriculum needs to be appropriate to the student’s development. If the juvenile justice system aims to teach better ways of interacting with the world, the system needs to be built around developmental stages, as several initiatives in Connecticut propose.

Legislators, move the parental rights bills

On behalf of myself and hundreds of other parents in Connecticut, we are wondering what caused the languishing of nearly 15 parental rights related bills? I am not aware of public hearings related to any of our bills, yet many other child welfare related bills were afforded a hearing, such as An Act Concerning the Use of Recycled Tire Rubber at Municipal and Public School Playgrounds. If this Act made it to a public hearing, what about bills concerning fundamental parental rights? Why did they die in committee? Will any of them make it to a public hearing? We are very concerned.

Free speech defense bill will combat ‘libel tourism’ in Connecticut

In the internet age when, at the press of a button, the spoken and written word can be transported around the world virtually instantaneously, our Constitutional freedom of expression is at increased risk from a relatively unrecognized threat – that of “libel tourism.” Fortunately, CT S.B. 69: “An Act Concerning the Enforcement of Foreign Libel Judgments” is the cure, and has been introduced this session.

How should we remember World War I?

How should World War I be remembered? Connecticut libraries and historical groups are now gearing up for this year’s 100th anniversary of April 6, 1917– the day we entered the “Great War.” What exactly will we commemorate? Thirty-seven million people were killed in the war from 1914 to 1918. U.S. forces averaged 297 casualties a day. Here was a conflict, historian Howard Zinn wrote, where “no one since that day has been able to show that the war brought any gain for humanity that would be worth one human life.”