Representative DebraLee Hovey (R-112) today tore into majority Democrats for a budget bill that eliminates mandatory jail time for chronic drunk drivers, a last-minute provision secretly inserted into the legislation and dumped on Republican lawmakers just hours before it came up for a vote.
“The only word I can think to describe this is ‘shameful’,” said Rep. Hovey. “I find the notion that we are actually eliminating jail time for repeat DWI offenders shocking. It is also troubling that we are going to grant early release to sex offenders, including pedophiles, who earn a set of credits. It’s a very poor set of policy decisions and will probably set us up as the softest state in the nation on these two significant crimes. The Governor and his party are letting every pervert and lawbreaker skate just to save a buck.”
The drunken driving aspect allows repeat offenders to serve little or no jail time, regardless of the number of convictions, subject to the total discretion of the corrections commissioner.
Currently DWI convictions can typically draw jail time after three offenses depending on circumstances. Under the provision adopted in the budget bill today, no mandatory jail time would occur. While the lengths of the potential mandatory sentences would not change, the corrections commissioner could sentence offenders to serve that time at home.
Offenders currently serving jail time could also be released if the corrections commissioner deems it appropriate. The provision was written into the 298-page budget implementation bill that covered changes affecting the judicial branch, public safety and criminal justice systems among others.
The bill additionally allows inmates in the custody of the Commissioner of Correction to earn risk reduction credits toward a reduction in a person’s sentence or up to five days per month. The credits would be earned for adherence to the inmate’s offender accountability plan for good conduct and obedience to institutional rules – and would apply to sex offenders including pedophiles.
Republicans offered an amendment that would prevent sex offenders from receiving the credits and earning an early release. It was defeated on a mostly party-line vote. The overall implementer bill passed on a party-line vote of 93-52.
This session of the Connecticut General Assembly will adjourn at midnight, June 8, 2011.