HARTFORD — State Rep. Arthur O’Neill along with House Republicans opposed legislation that would give retroactive early release credits to violent inmates behind bars for crimes such as aggravated sexual assault of a minor.
Democrats amended the controversial early release plan they rammed through the House last week despite repeated warnings from Republican lawmakers. The bill previously approved by Democrats granted all convicts, except those found guilty of a capital felony, eligibility to retroactive early release credits for nothing more than good behavior while behind bars.
On the first presentation of this legislation the Chair of the Judiciary Committee provided inaccurate information to Rep. O’Neill and other Republicans in effect suggesting that the proposal excluded many of violent crimes.
Rep. O’Neill said, “Giving Connecticut’s most violent offenders a reward for behaving in prison is bad public policy. These violent criminals should serve their full sentence that handed down by the judicial system.
The “fix” offered by Democrats makes six crimes ineligible for the “good time” credits: murder, felony murder, arson murder, capital murder, aggravated sexual assault and home invasion.
Under the legislation, inmates with convictions for all other crimes are eligible to have up to five days per month removed from their sentences. Democrat lawmakers approved the measure 90-56. The motivation for this legislation is to reduce prison populations by over 2500 and thereby reduce spending by around $40 million.
“Unfortunately, the majority party spoke repeatedly with the offender in mind — favoring the cause of the people who committed the crimes. Victims, people forever scarred by these criminals, weren’t mentioned until our amendments were debated,” added Rep. O’Neill.
Republicans saw Democrats shoot down their effort to add several crimes to the list of those ineligible for early release credits, including:
- Manslaughter first-degree with a firearm
- First-degree assault
- First-degree assault of elderly, blind, disabled, pregnant or mentally retarded
- Assault of pregnant woman resulting in termination of pregnancy
- First-degree sexual assault
- Aggravated sexual assault of minor
- Sexual assault in the third-degree with a firearm
- Enticing a minor
- First-degree burglary
- First-degree kidnapping
- First-degree kidnapping with a firearm
- First-degree arson
- Employing a minor in an obscene performance
Rep. O’Neill disagrees with the opposing notion that the state should use early release credits to entice inmates to use various counseling programs, which were available to them prior to this legislation.