‘From The Capitol’ Schools Out For The Prisoners…

June 17, 2011

Each year, the start of summer signals the end of the school year for children all across the nation. This year however, it will also signal something for our state’s prisoners.

In the final days of the 2011 legislative session, Majority Democrats and the Governor supported a bill extending early release privileges to a variety of violent criminals in Connecticut. House Bill 6650 grants convicted rapists, arsonists, pedophiles and many others shorter prison sentences for good behavior in prison. Specifically, under this bill, inmates will be able to reduce their sentences up to five days per month for ‘good behavior,’ and felons sentenced to two years in prison could get out of jail in just 90 days.

Proponents argue the measure as a way to save the state money or a way to better integrate violent criminals into society.

Conversely, I see this bill purely as a ‘get out of jail free card’ that will only serve to place the people of Connecticut in harms way. By implementing it, we would be allowing convicts a premature out simply because they went through counseling programs and acted appropriately while in prison, both of which inmates should already be doing. These individuals are imprisoned because they wronged against society and pose a threat. Rewarding convicts for good behavior and participating in programs only sends the message that Connecticut is soft of crime – that is the wrong message for our state.

I joined many of my legislative colleagues in speaking out on the bill when it came before the State Senate for debate and vote. I voiced strong opposition and questioned how families would feel about sexual predators being let out early. I questioned what type of security or justice this provides for an elderly person who has been assaulted. The implementation of this bill leaves Connecticut and families with little faith in our criminal justice system.

Further disturbing, this bill provides solace for violent criminals, but does nothing to aid the victims of their crimes. Under the bill, the state is now in the business of financing and providing increased services to acclimate and help criminals cope, but does zero in the way of victim’s rights or services. Again, where is the justice?

Included in the bill and subject to early release are those convicted of crimes such as: manslaughter; sexual assault; human trafficking; kidnapping ; assault of an elderly individual; arson; employing a minor in an obscene performance; importing child pornography; contaminating a public water supply or food supply for terrorist purposes; injury or risk of injury to, or impairing morals of, children; abandonment of child under the age of six years; firearms trafficking; and cruelty to animals.

Closer to home, many of you may recall a 2005 incident when a 20 year old Seymour man, who, in a fit of rage, killed six puppies. “If I can’t have them,” he said, “no one can.”  This man proceeded to “send the puppies to heaven” by slashing the throats of all six.  Convicted of six counts of cruelty to animals, he was sentenced to two years in jail, and under this bill, he could be released after just 90 days. 

So as our children start celebrating the end of another school year and all their hard earned accomplishments, our state’s criminals will be celebrating as well – celebrating an underserved and unwelcomed freedom. I voted against this measure as I stand only in support of legislation that protects and betters our state for the good people and families that make Connecticut their home.