This month Connecticut’s governor signed a new law that will establish the first statewide tracking system for jailhouse witness testimony. This measure will help improve transparency and weed out false statements from inmates who expect leniency or other benefits for their cooperation.
Each prosecutor’s office in the state will be required to maintain a record of the substance and use of jailhouse witness testimony and any benefits that have been or may be provided. The Governor’s Office of Policy and Management will collect the data from every office so that prosecutors can see if a potential jailhouse witness offered similar testimony in other jurisdictions and whether that testimony was reliable. If the prosecutor introduces the statements, previous jailhouse witness activity would be disclosed to the defense.
In addition, SB 1098 requires:
- Prompt disclosures of jailhouse witness evidence: Within 45 days of the defense filing a request, the prosecution must disclose specific evidence on jailhouse witnesses including: benefits offered for their testimony, their criminal history and other cases in which they acted as jailhouse witnesses.
- Pre-trial hearings: For rape and murder cases, judges must hold a hearing to screen out unreliable jailhouse witness testimony before it is heard by the jury.
posted by Michelle Feldman