- Associated Press - Thursday, May 5, 2016

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - When Connecticut legislators return to the state Capitol for a special session to finish the budget, they’re expected to also vote on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s latest criminal justice reform bill.

But House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said Thursday, the day after the regular legislative adjourned, the General Assembly should wait until next year to take up an issue so complex and far-reaching.

“I don’t think it should be involved in special session at all,” she said. “I think if a bill that was brought up during the session that has such major policy implications … cannot get through the session, work on it again next year.”

Lawmakers are expected to meet in special session next week. The Senate is scheduled to return on Thursday, while the House of Representatives has not yet announced a date. Both chambers are controlled by Democrats, who decided to scrap a planned vote Wednesday night on a budget deal they reached with Malloy. Besides the budget bills, they said Malloy’s criminal justice proposal would be resurrected for a vote, even though the particular bill was not listed on the document calling them back into special session.

The criminal justice bill is a follow-up to the Democratic governor’s Second Chance Society legislation, which passed last year and aims to help nonviolent offenders caught up in the criminal justice system, reduce recidivism and ultimately lower crime. Among other things, this year’s proposal would create a new category of people in the juvenile justice system, known as young adults. Under the proposal, the juvenile court system would have jurisdiction over defendants who are 20 years old by 2019.

The proposal also makes changes to the state’s bail system, which drew a reality TV star and local bond agents to the state Capitol during the final days of the regular legislative session to oppose the measure. Beth Chapman, wife of Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” is president of the Professional Bail Agents of the United States. She opposes language prohibiting courts from requiring defendants to post surety bonds if they’re charged with a misdemeanor.

Malloy, who agreed to meet with Chapman, has spoken about how hundreds of defendants who can’t afford to pay bail are waiting in jails for their court trial, at the state’s expense.

When asked about Klarides’ opposition to taking up the bill in special session, Devon Puglia, the governor’s spokesman, noted how the legislation has fiscal ramifications.

“Leader Klarides may not be aware that the budgetary savings for a reduction in prisoners that were built into her own Republican budget proposal - released just last week - would only be achievable with … Second Chance implementation,” he said.

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