Posted 11 months ago on March 24, 2013, 3:05 p.m. EST by GirlFriday
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Some lawmakers in the legislature's Republican minority have been trying to kill the program since before it was enacted in 2011. On Friday they brought the matter to a hearing before the judiciary committee in the form of Senate Bill 123. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Joe Markley, R-Southington, and others, would scrap the early-release program.
"I understand the salutary effects of the policy,'' Sen. John Kissel, an Enfield Republican, said at an information session before the hearing. "The one that's probably most important to me is the beneficial impact it has on corrections officers. I think there is a benefit to incentivizing good behavior, even with the most dangerous of our inmates.''
But Kissel, the ranking Republican on the committee, said that the state owes victims an assurance that violent criminals serve the sentences imposed on them by the court.
Michael Lawlor, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's undersecretary for criminal justice issues, said that violent offenders are serving more of their original sentences than they were before the program was established.
"It's a matter of fact that violent offenders after the risk-reduction system was implemented are actually being held in for longer than they were before,'' Lawlor told the committee. "We have not released violent offenders before they have served 85 percent of their original sentence, and that's by design."
Risk-reduction credits are among the myriad of criminal justice policy changes enacted in response to the murders of three members of the Petit family in Cheshire in 2007.
Under the system, inmates may earn up to five days a month off of their sentences for good behavior and participation in educational classes, drug treatment and other programs that aim to reduce recidivism. The credits can be revoked if prisoners misbehave or fail to comply with the program.
Most other states, including Texas, Kansas and North Carolina, have similar policies of offering the incentive of early release for good behavior in prison. Lawlor said that Connecticut's policy is far more stringent than those used elsewhere.
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