Connecticut's Judicial Panel Votes to Lower Percentage of Cash Bail Bonds
Connecticut’s Rules Committee of the Superior Court met in Hartford on Monday and voted unanimously to propose a reduction of the cash bail paid by defendants from 10% to 7%. The change, if approved by state judges at their annual meeting next month, would expand upon a policy implemented four years ago allowing low-income defendants to pay a lower percentage of their bond in order to be released from a police department while awaiting court proceedings on criminal charges.
This bail bonds reform would make it easier for some defendants to avoid incarceration prior to trial.
The original policy only applied to bond amounts of $20,000 or lower.
This week’s action saw the pretrial release threshold decreased to 7% and the maximum bond eligible for the program raised to $50,000; this was in response to a request from the state sentencing commission. At a public hearing prior to Monday’s vote, Chair of the commission, Judge Robin Pavia noted that defendants who were struggling to make a 10% cash bond were being detained for minor offenses. The proposal was created by a diverse group, endorsed by the commission and ultimately voted on by the council.
These changes are intended to build on the successes of earlier initiatives.
Pavia explained that the 10% option was primarily used for those facing low-level charges and bonds of around $1,000. For higher bail amounts, professional surety bonds were still in place. This measure sparked criticism from Republicans who argued it should be up to the legislature to modify state bail policies rather than Judiciary. House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora was particularly outspoken, warning that such a move would make it easier for criminals. Despite their objections, Supreme Court Justice Andrew McDonald noted no comment from the Democrat and Republican leaders of the Judiciary Committee.
McDonald, a former state senator who chaired the legislative committee in the past voiced his opinion that it might not be within the authority of the legislature to dictate bail policy to the Judicial Branch. He explained that while there is no clear cut line separating the two branches, judicial leaders would consider policies proposed by lawmakers. Representatives of Connecticut’s bond industry also spoke up at Monday’s hearing opposing the proposed reform, fearing that expanding the current 10% rule would lead to the elimination of surety bond systems which they said had been successful in ensuring defendant court appearance.
A surety bond allows defendants to remain free while they await their court dates, allowing them the ability to maintain employment and be reminded of those appointments. Accessibility to payment plans is also given for those in need, ensuring that victims are able to have their day in court. During the meeting on Monday, McDonald noted he had questions about some of the numbers presented and his suspicions were confirmed when it was revealed that fluctuations in pre-trial detention had been due to the COVID-19 pandemic; shortly after, a commission consisting of law enforcement and prosecutors recommended bail bond reform. He concluded that he trusted their data more than what he considered “loose recitation” which had been given.
The change was passed. Ultimately, the goal is accountability.
In conclusion… Using a surety bondsman is the most convenient and more affordable way to cover a large financial burden, such as if an individual cannot afford their full bail amount. We offer payment plans as low as 3% and accept all forms of payments when cash isnt always accessible.
Rather than leaving someone close to you in prison, you can access a bail bond service and secure the funds you need immediately.
With these services, you also have access to payment plans that can help manage the cost.