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State Legislature Convenes Special Session for Criminal Justice Reform
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The State Legislature has gathered for a special session to enact criminal justice reform.

Speaking on WNPR's Where We Live program, House Speaker James Amann says the Democratic majority and Governor Jodi Rell have reached a consensus on most issues in the reform proposal.

Two sticking points remain, including disagreement between the Democrats and Republicans over a so-called, 3 strikes law that would send repeat violent offenders to prison for life.

Amann says the problem with a 3 strikes law is that it would take away judicial discretion.

But House Minority leader, Larry Cafero says the Republicans disagree with the need for flexibility when sentencing repeat violent offenders. He says the Governor has an idea that may help the Legislature reach a compromise.

"That after 30 years that sentence should be reviewed, that is a compromise, a hybrid if you will as I've called it. And I think our caucus would certainly be willing to go along with that as well."

The special session was prompted by the deadly home invasion this past summer in Cheshire that killed 3 members of the Petit family. Two men have been charged with the crimes.

House Speaker Amann says the reform package includes investing money to improve technology and info-sharing between law enforcement agencies. Amann says this kind of investment could have prevented the Cheshire tragedy.

"The problem wasn't 3-strikes. The problem was information sharing, lack of sharing important data and information to Parole that probably woudl have kept these 2 individuals in jail."

The legislators are also trying to reach a compromise on how to label certain crimes so they fall under the definition of a violent offense.

If the reform package is approved, the state could be spending up to an additional $25 million dollars in the next 2 years.