(Photo) CT Lawmakers, Murder Victims’ Families Sound Alarm on Parole Board Legislation Which Would Silence Victims’ Voices

May 31, 2023

May 31, 2023

Media Contact:
Hannah Lemek
[email protected]

CT Lawmakers, Murder Victims’ Families Sound Alarm
on Parole Board Legislation Which Would Silence Victims’ Voices

Vow to Make Changes to Let Victims’ Voices
and Board Chair’s Recommendations Be Heard

(Watch the press conference here.)

HARTFORD- Today, Senator Stephen Harding (R-Brookfield), Connecticut Senate Republican Leader, Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford), and CT Republican Senators expressed outrage in the House of Representatives’ passage of legislation (HB 6738) on May 24, 2023, that codifies practices of the embattled Board of Pardons and Paroles (BoPP).

“I am disheartened to see that the new BoPP Chair’s recommendations were not taken into consideration,” said Sen. Stephen Harding, (R-Brookfield) who serves on the Judiciary Committee. “When the new leader of this board’s input is not incorporated into new legislation, we have a problem: A problem which will lead to even more unjustified commutations for violent criminals. We need to be focused more on the victims and their families. Their voices must be heard.”

“The purpose of the pause in commutations was to give victims and their families a voice in the process, a constitutionally protected voice. This is not only the legally correct approach but also one that provides the victim’s survivors with human dignity,” Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford) said.

“An amendment was tacked on to this bill during the House’s late-night debate which disregards recommendations from the newly appointed BoPP Chair,” Senator Somers said. “That’s inexcusable. Corrections must be made, and I will work with my Senate colleagues to make much-needed fixes.”

“Since her appointment, the new BoPP Chair has spent a lot of time meeting with stakeholders, including victims, and she has worked collaboratively to put together a very thoughtful new policy,” Sen. Somers added. “But the proponents of this legislation chose not to include her or her policy ideas in drafting their bill. Instead, this bill ties her to much of former BoPP Chair Carleton Giles’ controversial policies. This is setting the stage for little change as to commutations.”

Sen. John Kissel, (R-Enfield) who serves as Ranking Member on the Judiciary Committee said, “We would be better served if we had no bill this year and let chairwoman (Jennifer Medina) Zaccagnini do her work,” Kissel continued, “The bill that was handed up to us from the House actually takes a step back.… If the bill runs out of steam and doesn’t pass this year, I have the utmost confidence in Jennifer Zaccagnini to make good decisions that respect victims and victims’ rights.”

Earlier in the legislative session, Sen. Harding, Sen. Kelly, Sen. Somers, and Sen. Kissel a were among many vocal lawmakers who brought to light the BoPP guidelines that lopped decades off of convicted murderers’ prison sentences. They demanded that victims of violent crime be put first. The Governor appointed a new chair at the end of April, who paused all commutations until she could meet with stakeholders to formulate a new policy.





Cell: (860) 406-1939