Right on Crime Policy Director Marc A. Levin Disappointed Connecticut Legislature Failed to Pass Bill That Would Review Juvenile Life Sentences
Date:  05-13-2014

Supporters of the bill hope it will be brought up again in a special legislative session
Marc A. Levin is often credited with spurring conservative Republicans to take another look at criminal justice policies created during the unsuccessful “war on drugs.” When Levin spoke about those policies being harmful, particularly to communities of color, and obscenely expensive to taxpayers who deserved more for their money, conservatives listened and took action.

On May 6, Levin, the policy director for Right on Crime, a conservative organization that pushes for criminal justice and sentencing reform, and who also serves as director of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy, wrote an op-ed for the CT Mirror in which he expressed hope that the Connecticut legislature would pass a bill formally known as “An Act Concerning the Recommendations of the Connecticut Sentencing Commission Regarding Lengthy Sentences for Crimes Committed by a Child or Youth and the Sentencing of a Child or Youth Convicted of Certain Felony Offenses.” Passage of the bill would:

1) Provide for automatic review of sentences served by persons who were under eighteen years of age when they committed their crimes, and (2) provide guidelines for the sentencing of juveniles convicted of Class A, B and C felonies and enact provisions to comply with the United States Supreme Court decision in Miller v. Alabama.

In his CT Mirror op-ed piece Levin stated: “The so-called “Second Look” bill passed the state House overwhelmingly last year, but the Senate never voted on it. There is a danger that history will repeat itself this year. In doing nothing, the Senate will be taking a decisive action – whether it likes it or not. It will be tacitly voting for the state to spend millions of dollars on years of litigation as sentences are challenged in court, case by case. Supreme Court rulings do not simply go away.”

Levin was correct in sensing the danger that the bill would fail to pass. Read CT Mirror article here.

When contacted by Reentry Central for a comment on the failure by both Connecticut Democrat and Republican legislators to get the bill passed. Levin stated:

“Although we are disappointed this legislation did not quite get across the finish line, we look forward to working with Connecticut policymakers to address this issue in the 2015 legislative session. Connecticut should join many other states in ensuring that there is some constitutional process to review the cases of youths sentenced to prison for life to determine if there is a point when they have been sufficiently punished and rehabilitated, and do not pose a threat to public safety. A review process with objective criteria does not entitle any of these individuals to release. It will, however, advance due process and justice, as well as ensure limited prison space is allocated to keep behind bars those individuals who are a current threat to the public.”

Supporters of the bill are hoping that it will be brought up again in a special session before 2015 General Assembly session convenes.