Senator Fasano Again Calls for Special Session to Strengthen Connecticut’s Persistent Offender Laws, Three Strikes Policy and Parole Processes

September 6, 2007

Hartford, CT – Senate Minority Leader Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-North Haven) joined Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield) and House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero
(R-Norwalk) at a press conference today to introduce a comprehensive package of legislative reforms aimed at toughening jail sentences on Connecticut’s most serious repeat offenders. 

The Republican leaders again called on Senate President Don Williams and House Speaker Jim Amann to convene a special session of the General Assembly no later than October 23 to strengthen Connecticut’s persistent offender laws, reclassify burglary of a residence as a violent crime, fix the state’s parole processes, and enact a true Three Strikes policy – one that eliminates judicial discretion and requires life imprisonment for a third serious felony conviction.

“The time to act is now.  Connecticut needs to mandate that home invasions be classified as violent crimes and enact a strong three strikes law that will ensure that those who commit serious crimes serve serious time,” said Senator Fasano.  “With Three Strikes and You’re Out, as well as a full reform of our persistent offender laws, there will be no more excuses, no more second guessing, and no more tragedies blamed on misplaced paperwork or a ‘lack of communication’ within the criminal justice system.”

The Republican leaders cited Tuesday’s state Supreme Court decision, which found part of Connecticut’s current persistent offender law to be unconstitutional, as further evidence that the state’s laws pertaining to career criminals need to change now.  The Court ordered that the jury, not the judge, decide if Arnold Bell, a lifetime criminal most recently convicted of assault for shooting a New Haven police officer, be required to serve a longer sentence. 

“Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision creates nothing short of an emergency for this legislature,” said Senator Fasano.  “The Court found our persistent offender law to be unconstitutional and this legislature is remiss if it does not act with a sense of urgency to fix this important law.”

The General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee is set to meet September 11th for an informational hearing on our state’s sentencing laws and parole processes, but Senator Fasano says hearings are not enough.
“We aren’t going to settle for a Judiciary Committee review of this problem, or the excuse that we need “further study.”  Our state’s failure in dealing with persistent offenders has been studied ad nauseum.  Since 2000, there have been: 29 reports regarding prison overcrowding and prison statistics; 23 reports on probation, pardons, and reentry; and 17 reports regarding mandatory minimums and sentencing.  We don’t need more reports.  We don’t need more studies.  What we need is action,” said Senator Fasano.

Senate Republican Leaders have on two previous occasions (July 31 and August 17) written Senator Williams and Speaker Amann to request a special session to address these issues.  Neither legislative leader responded to those appeals.

A complete list of proposals introduced Tuesday by Senator Fasano and his Republican colleagues follows on page 3 of this release.

Change the Laws ~ Change the System

Republican Legislative Leaders introduced the following proposals today to strengthen
Connecticut’s laws and parole processes pertaining to dangerous career criminals. 

The legislative leaders are calling for a special session to vote on their proposals.


  1. Enact a Strong Three Strikes Law that eliminates judicial discretion and requires life imprisonment for a third serious felony conviction, keeping career criminals in jail and out of our neighborhoods.
  1. Reclassify Burglary of a Residence (Home Invasion) as a Violent Crime
    1. Force dangerous felons who commit this crime to serve 85% of their jail sentences before applying for parole (under current law, the majority of these criminals are released after serving only half of their sentences).
    2. Impose a mandatory minimum 5-year prison sentence on criminals convicted of burglary in the first or second degree.
  1. Strengthen Connecticut’s Persistent Offender Law by following the state Supreme Court’s recommendation to grant juries the power to determine enhanced sentences on criminals they deem to be dangerous persistent offenders.


  1. Reform the State’s Parole Process
    1. Transfer the Board of Parole from the Dept. of Corrections to the Dept. of Public Safety
    2. Increase membership on the Board of Parole
    3. Require transcripts and other information pertaining to a candidate for parole be provided to Board of Parole members at least three business days prior to the candidate’s hearing
    4. Require released offenders to report to their local police station to be photographed and documented within one week of their release
    5. Require more information on the court record at the time of sentencing
  1. Require Serious Criminals to Wear GPS Tracking Devices on their person at all times as a condition of their release.



proposed legislation

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of statutes, (A) when a person stands convicted of manslaughter, arson, kidnapping, robbery in the first or second degree,  assault constituting a felony, sexual assault in the first or third degree, aggravated sexual assault in the first degree or sexual assault in the third degree with a firearm, burglary in the first or second degree, robbery involving an occupied motor vehicle, stalking in the first degree, or stealing a firearm  and (B) has been, prior to the commission of the present crime, twice convicted of and imprisoned in this state or in any other state or in a federal correctional institution, for any of: (i) The crimes enumerated in subparagraph (A) of this subdivision or any predecessor statutes in this state or an attempt to commit any of said crimes; or (ii) in any other state, any crimes the essential elements of which are substantially the same as any of the crimes enumerated in subparagraph (A) of this subdivision or this subparagraph, the court shall sentence such person to a term of life imprisonment without the possibility of release.
(b) It shall be an affirmative defense for a conviction pursuant to subsection (a) of this section that (1) as to any prior conviction on which the state is relying the defendant was pardoned on the ground of innocence, and (2) without such conviction, the defendant was not two or more times convicted and imprisoned as required by this section.