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Connecticut Supreme Court: Insanity Acquittee May Be Held in Prison on Bond

On November 3, 2015, the Supreme Court of Connecticut held that an insanity acquittee who was being held in a maximum-security psychiatric hospital could be held in prison if unable to pay the $100,000 bond set for new crimes he committed at the hospital.

Francis Anderson, who has a lengthy mental health and criminal history, was charged with assault of a correction officer, breach of the peace and failure to submit to fingerprinting but found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. He was committed to the custody of the Psychiatric Security Review Board and confined in the maximum security section of the Whiting Forensic Division of the Connecticut Valley Hospital.

While at the hospital, Anderson engaged in a pattern of assaulting other patients and staff. He was charged with multiple misdemeanors and two felonies. As a result of those charges, a criminal trial judge set his bond at $100,000. Because he was unable to pay, Anderson was transferred to the custody of the Commissioner of Corrections with a notation from the court that he required mental health treatment and should be housed in a way to ensure the safety of the other prisoners and prison staff.

Anderson appealed the bond, alleging it violated the state and federal constitutions by denying him his right to bail and due process. The Connecticut Supreme Court held that setting a bond for an insanity acquittee did not amount to impermissible preventative detention. Bail exists not only to ensure a person's appearance in court, but also to ensure good behavior while awaiting trial and ensure the public safety. The trial court set the bond to ensure the safety of others and this was constitutionally permissible.

Anderson has a liberty interest in being provided mental health treatment, but had ample notice of the state's intention to seek bond and that this could cause him to be transferred to prison on the basis of the danger he presented to hospital staff and patients. He had a bond hearing in which he was represented by a public defender. He was allowed to appeal the bond. Nonetheless, he continued his assaultive behavior even while the bond issue was being litigated. This was all the process that was due to prevent erroneous transfers to prison. Therefore, the Supreme Court affirmed the order imposing a monetary bond, but reemphasized that Anderson was entitled to some level of psychiatric treatment while in the temporary custody of the Commissioner of Corrections as a pretrial detainee even if it did not rise to the level of treatment he was accustomed to at the hospital. See: State v. Anderson, SC, No. 19399, (Conn. Nov. 3, 2015).