February 27, 2008
By: Christopher Reinhart, Senior Attorney
You asked (1) about the difference between parole and special parole; (2) what happens when someone violates a condition of special parole; and (3) whether someone who violates special parole can be released on parole later, who decides, and under what conditions.
Parole is a decision by the Board of Pardons and Paroles to release an inmate from prison prior to the completion of his or her maximum prison sentence. The offender then serves part of his or her sentence under parole supervision. Special parole is part of the sentence that a judge can impose when someone is convicted of a crime. The judge can require a period of special parole under parole supervision after an offender completes his or her maximum prison sentence.
The court can sentence an offender to a period of special parole of between one and 10 years. It can impose a period of more than 10 years on offenders:
1. convicted of (a) risk of injury to a minor, when it involves a minor under age 16 and contact with inmate parts; (b) 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree sexual assault; (c) 1st degree aggravated sexual assault; (d) sexual assault in a spousal or cohabiting relationship; or (e) 3rd degree sexual assault with a firearm; or
2. sentenced as a (a) persistent dangerous felony offender or (b) persistent serious felony offender.
When the court sentences someone to special parole, it can recommend that the person comply with any or all of the requirements that the court can impose as conditions of probation or conditional discharge. The board can require the person to comply with the recommended requirements and can impose other rules and conditions.
If a parole officer believes someone has violated the conditions of special parole, the law requires the Board or Pardons and Paroles to hold a hearing with the parolee without unnecessary delay. The parolee must be informed at the hearing of the alleged violation and be advised by the board employee conducting the hearing of his or her due process rights.
If a violation is established, the board can:
1. continue the period of special parole,
2. modify or enlarge the conditions of special parole, or
3. revoke the special parole (CGS § 54-125e, 2008 Supplement).
A person's special parole can be revoked only if, after the hearing, the employee recommends revocation and at least two members of a board panel approve the recommendation (CGS § 54-127a).
If the board revokes the special parole, the board chairman can issue an order to commit the parolee to prison for any period up to the amount of the unexpired portion of the special parole sentence. If special parole is revoked, the board can, at any time during the unexpired portion of special parole, allow the parolee to be released again on special parole without a court order (CGS § 54-125e, 2008 Supplement).
A person returned to prison for violating special parole can be kept in prison for a period equal to the unexpired portion of the special parole sentence. But the total term of incarceration and term of special parole combined cannot exceed the maximum prison sentence authorized for the offense the person was convicted of (CGS § 54-128(c)).