Gov. Ned Lamont recently signed into law several bills impacting the rules by which law enforcement and the state’s criminal justice agencies can operate.
SB 1071, signed into law on June 12, creates a rebuttable presumption that an admission, confession, or statement made to law enforcement agents under interrogation is involuntary and inadmissible in court if deception or coercive tactics were used.
The law defines “deception or coercive tactics” as any tactic that unreasonably deprives a person being interrogated of physical or mental health needs that either are known to exist or should have been known to exist, as well as the threat of use or use of physical force upon a person being interrogated, unlawful arrest of another person, and the imposition of unlawful penalties or unlawful administrative or immigration sanctions on either the person being interrogated or another person.
If the person being interrogated is under the age of 18, the definition of deception or coercive tactics expands to include communicating false facts about evidence that was either known or should have been known to be false to law enforcement agents, communicating false statements or misrepresentations of the law, and communicating false or misleading promises of leniency or some other benefit.
The presumption of an admission as involuntary and inadmissible can be overcome if the state proves “by clear and convincing evidence” that the admission was voluntary and that any alleged use of deception did not undermine the reliability of the confession and did not create a substantial risk that the person might falsely incriminate themselves.
Two identical amendments that would have weakened the bill were introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The first would have struck the bill the portion of the bill that defines communicating false facts about evidence to individuals under the age of 18 as deceptive or coercive.
The second would have lowered the evidentiary standard required to overturn the presumption that an admission made under the use of deceptive or coercive tactics from “clear and convincing evidence” from a preponderance of the evidence. Neither amendment garnered the necessary votes to pass in either legislative chamber.
The original bill was approved by the House on May 11 and the Senate on May 31. Lamont signed the bill into law on June 12.
The same day Lamont also signed SB 927 into law, which requires third-party vendors or contractors assisting in the design or implementation of the Connecticut Information Sharing System to seek approval from the Criminal Justice Information System Governing Board before accessing criminal history record information.
The previous day, on June 7, Lamont signed SB 1196 into law. Under it, the commissioner of the Department of Corrections is required to notify the victims of a crime for which a person is incarcerated and the immediate family members of an incarcerated person when they are transferred between correctional facilities. That requirement is only in place if the individuals at issue have requested to be notified and have provided their current residential address or email.
The bill also requires the commissioner to submit a request for proposal to procure body scanning images that allow for full-body x-ray scans of inmates by January 1, 2024. The goal of procuring body scanning technology is to reduce the number of strip searches performed on incarcerated individuals. Additionally, the commissioner must submit a report about the status of procuring body scanners, the estimated cost of installing them, and other information by February 1, 2024.
Lamont also signed SB 1070 on June 7. Under the new law, the Criminal Justice Commission is required to call each state’s attorney before it annually to testify and comment on annual data collected on disaggregated case-level data on adult defendants.
Before passing both chambers of the legislature, the bill saw pushback and an identical amendment introduced in both the House and Senate that would have changed a single word in the bill, changing its requirement that the Criminal Justice Commission require state’s attorneys to appear annually to give the commission the power to do so if it so chose. The amendment failed to garner the necessary votes in either chamber and was passed by the Senate on May 17 and the House on May 31.
As of June 12, Lamont has signed 44 bills passed by the legislature during its most recent session.