HARTFORD – A budget bill approved by House Democrats today would allow violent criminals to shave up to nearly a year off their sentences by obeying correctional regulations. The plan provides “good behavior credits’ to inmates that can take up to five days a month off of a sentence.
The bill was passed in the House last week but brought back when Democrats came under fire because the original legislation would have allowed early release for all criminals except for those on death row. Democrats amended the bill to carve out exceptions to the early release credits for any crime that is ineligible for parole.
However, Republicans pointed out that the bill still provides early release for those convicted of heinous crimes including arson, rape and aggravated sexual assault on a minor.
“I support the notion of risk reduced sentences for non-violent offender, just not violent criminals,” said State Representative Whit Betts (R- Bristol).
“Unfortunately, this bill gives insufficient consideration to the victims of violent crimes and their families,” Betts said. “As a father, I can’t imagine the prospect of someone who has committed sexual assault against a minor becoming eligible for a reduced sentence.”
The bill is retroactive to April 1, 2006 which could give certain convicted felons up to 300 days off their sentences. Proponents of the bill say encouraging good behavior will make Connecticut safer by reducing recidivism and has the added benefit of saving the state money.
“The state already offers a host of opportunities and programs that help rehabilitate and treat inmates including psychiatric assistance, education and the like,” said Betts. “The programs are there, they’re available.”