HARTFORD — State Rep. Dan Carter today said he’ll launch an effort to repeal a controversial policy that gives registered sex offenders opportunities at early release from prison if they behave behind bars. “Last spring residents of this state watched majority legislators put the public at risk just to save a buck,” said Carter, who represents Bethel, Danbury and Redding. “They allowed the unthinkable: letting convicted sex offenders out of prison early instead of pursuing structural budgetary changes that would produce meaningful and measurable savings.”
During the 2011 legislative session, Democrats secreted away their controversial early release proposal in a large “implementer” bill—a type of legislation that powers the governor’s two-year budget plan.
Republicans, including Carter, discovered the plan and objected. Democrats, however, voted to install the loosely-formed policy and the governor approved the concept that originated from his administration.
Carter plans to take aim at the early release program when the 2012 legislative session begins Feb. 8.
Though abusing the implementer process to circumvent public comment and the committee process represented a lack of transparency, Carter was most concerned by the move to create policy based solely on financial concerns without apparent concern for community impact.
“I hope that this time around victims and the general public can comment on the policy,” said Carter, recalling widespread concern from residents after the early release plan became public. “I think most people will agree that sex offenders, in particular, pose a significant risk to the community—especially when there are legitimate concerns about the state’s ability rehabilitate them.”
The proposal passed during last year’s budget also gives early release credits to inmates in a variety of other categories, including those with multiple drunken driving convictions and violent offenses.
Republicans, including Carter, opposed early release for those inmates, too.
Carter previously introduced an amendment (L.C.O. 7109) that would have at least taken sex offenders out of pool of those eligible for early release. That, along with several other Republican-authored amendments aimed at keeping violent inmates behind bars, were rejected by Democrats.