Violent Criminals in Connecticut Less Likely to Get Parole

Connecticut governor M. Jodi Rell has announced plans to “safeguard residents” by reducing their exposure to violent offenders. According to the governor’s policies, those serving time for violent crimes present too great a risk to the public when released from prison.

This comes after a series of unfortunate events involving parolees of violent crimes. Connecticut news source Courant reports that in July, two parolees were accused of killing several people in Cheshire. To prevent such occurrences in the future, Rell introduced electronic monitoring devices for violent parolees.

At the end of the summer, according to Courant, another parolee convicted of a violent crime was released without the monitoring device-and was charged with armed car robbery shortly thereafter.

In an effort to further reduce the risk presented by parolees convicted of violent crimes, Rell has suspended approval of any future parole for inmates serving time for violent crimes. Additionally, she has stated that any parolee who violates the terms of his parole will be returned to prison.

While this may sound like a bold and family-friendly step toward fighting crime, the reality is a bit more complicated. Connecticut jails are reportedly filled past capacity-there are 19,000 inmates in a system designed to hold 17,000.

Besides all the new convicts and all the convicts denied parole, there have been instances of parolees returned to prison for various reasons. Some had to go back because they hadn’t been outfitted with the monitoring devices now required.

But, sources say, the demand for so many electronic devices has led to a shortage of supply, making things tricky for law enforcement officials.

So where are all these non-paroled inmates going to stay?

The plan is to release about 1,200 non-violent inmates, based on reviews of their files. The ultimate decision of an inmate’s release rests with the Commissioner of the Department of Correction. Some will go to halfway houses; some will enter into other parole programs.

Connecticut state law requires nonviolent criminals to serve at least 50% of their sentences, and so far Rell’s proposed measures have met with agreement, reports say. Unfortunately, as violent criminals and parolees are handled with more elaborate precautions, more funding is needed. And that’s not always easy to come by.

Some of Rell’s new rules include the elimination of “social furloughs” for ex-cons at halfway houses and the revocation of parole for anyone who violates even a technicality of his parole terms. Naturally, this-when combined with the nearly 1,200 new parolees potentially released-will require monitoring by more parole officers, and therefore paying these officers. But that seems to be the price of safety.