The Sentencing Commission’s recommendations included in Senate Bill 1113 will make the sexual offender registry more effective and fair. However, as introduced, this bill has a serious constitutional vulnerability. The proposal would deny thousands of registrants who are currently on the public registry the ability to petition off of the registries due to the date of their conviction. Basing whether someone can petition off the registries on the date of their conviction is arbitrary. This inequity will make the state vulnerable to equal protection challenges. Due to this serious flaw, ACLU-CT cannot support the bill without an amendment allowing everyone on the registries the opportunity to petition off of them.
S.B. 1113, An Act Concerning the Recommendations of the Connecticut Sentencing Commission with Respect to the Sexual Offender Registry, Petitions to Terminate Parental Rights of Incarcerated Parents and Sentence Review
The ACLU-CT also support this bill’s efforts to protect the rights of incarcerated parents. The proposal would ensure that an incarcerated individual’s parental rights are not terminated due to circumstances outside of their control. A parent should not lose their rights to participate in the upbringing of their child(ren) at the prison gate, and courts should take into consideration an incarcerated parent’s ability to participate in the life of their child(ren) and in programming when determining whether to terminate parental rights. It is vital that parents be afforded the right to participate in child welfare case hearings, whether or not they are incarcerated. Protecting an incarcerated parent’s ability to participate in such hearings by allowing the use of phone or video is an imperative step in allowing them to defend their parental rights. Incarcerated parents should not have their rights to parent and build relationships with their children taken away from them simply because of the fact that they are incarcerated, and these proposals will help prevent that unjust outcome.
We also support the proposed changes to the sentence review and modification statutes in Senate Bill 1113. The bill is an important step in reducing mass incarceration. It gives more people who are incarcerated the opportunity to be discharged with or without probation or have their sentences reduced. This will most likely decrease the number of people incarcerated in our state and give people who are incarcerated another chance at returning to their community and a better chance at rehabilitation in the long run.