HARTFORD—State Rep. John Shaban today ripped legislative Democrats for a hastily written budget bill that will eliminate mandatory jail time for chronic drunken drivers and giving violent inmates, including sex offenders, the possibility of early release for “good” behavior while behind bars. Those provisions, and many others, were secretly inserted into a 289 page budget “implementer” bill — a type of legislation that empowers the Governor’s two-year budget plan—that was sprung Monday night for Tuesday’s session. Shaban contends that many of the concepts inserted into the implementer bill focus more on State policy rather than its budget, and were injected last minute to avoid the appropriate committee process. “It’s unconscionable,” Shaban said, “and arguably contrary to law.”
The most objectionable part of the bill would grant a host of criminal offenders, including multiple drunken driving offenders, the ability to serve little or no jail time regardless of the number of convictions, subject to the total discretion of the corrections commissioner.
“In an effort to avoid open debate, the majority has crammed through policies that erode the effort to get tough on people who repeatedly drink and drive,” Shaban said. “They just gave a political appointee the authority to determine how or whether a sentence will be carried out, regardless of what a Judge said.”
Shaban was particularly shocked by the Democrat plan to give inmates—including sex offenders—a bright path to early release should they behave well while in prison.
“Under this bill, pedophiles and other violent offenders will be given the opportunity to have their sentences reduced simply for behaving in jail,” said Shaban. “How do we explain that to a victim’s family?”
Democrats shot down an amendment to remove convicted sex offenders from the bill, and approved H.B. 6650 by a 93 to 52 vote. The bill will not only effect the above policy changes, it will grant the government the authority to implement the Governor’s budget – a budget under heavy criticism over its illusory savings in the $1.6 Billion union concession package that still fails to balance the budget.
“Citizens of this State want transparency in government,” Shaban said. “I’m willing to bet a lot of people I represent will be disappointed as they learn more about what was passed here today.”