- Associated Press - Thursday, June 2, 2016

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut’s House of Representatives on Thursday postponed a vote on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s plan to overhaul the state’s bail system, dealing a setback to one of the top-tier initiatives of the Democrat’s second term.

The legislation, part of Malloy’s Second Chance Society proposals, would have prohibited a judge from setting cash bail for people facing only a misdemeanor charge. It includes exceptions for people deemed by judges to be an immediate threat to others and those charged with failing to appear in court.

Democratic House Speaker Brendan Sharkey said lawmakers did not feel comfortable voting on the bill and will leave it to the administration to determine next steps. Democrats said there is wide support for eliminating unfair incarceration of poor people charged with minor crimes, but they did not have all the details of the bill in advance.

State lawmakers came back to Hartford to consider the legislation in a one-day special session.

The proposed budget had been counting on about $15 million a year in savings on prison costs from the bail reforms. With the failure of the proposal, Malloy said Thursday he was using a line-item veto to cut spending elsewhere.

On Wednesday, Malloy said 348 inmates accused of misdemeanors would not be in jail if his proposal was the law. The governor also said studies show low-risk defendants are more likely to reoffend the longer they are detained, so his plan would help reduce crime.

“With each day spent in jail awaiting a court date, their ability to succeed outside of the criminal justice system declines, the likelihood they will commit a crime in the future increases, and the cost to the state rises,” Malloy said Wednesday.

Malloy already had cut back on his Second Chance Society proposals in hopes of winning passage for the bail reforms. The compromise included the governor dropping his controversial plan to have the Juvenile Court system handle most criminal cases involving anyone 20 years old or younger. Juvenile courts now handle most cases involving anyone 17 years old or younger.

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