Location:
EXECUTIVE AND LEGISLATIVE NOMINATIONS COMMITTEE;
Scope:
Connecticut laws/regulations;

OLR Research Report


April 15, 2011

 

2011-R-0185

QUESTIONS FOR COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION NOMINEE

By: Christopher Reinhart, Chief Attorney

COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION (CGS 18-80 AND 18-81)

● Must be an experienced correctional administrator.

● Administers the Department of Correction's (DOC) institutions, facilities, and activities.

● Establishes custodial and rehabilitative methods and operates community-based programs.

● Responsible for supervising parolees.

● Establishes disciplinary, treatment, education, training, and other services and programs throughout DOC.

● Arranges legal services for indigent inmates within available appropriations.

CURRENT ISSUES

1. The prison population has declined and is projected to decline further. What is responsible for this decline? What could be done to decrease the population further?

2. The state is planning to close a second prison, Gates Correctional Institution, on June 1. Where will DOC house the inmates currently at Gates? Do you see additional opportunities to close facilities or portions of them?

3. One of the governor's bills (HB 6391) requires the commissioner to create an incentive plan for inmates to earn credits to reduce their sentence and achieve an early release from prison? How would this plan work? How many inmates could be released?

4. The governor's bill (HB 6391) also allows the commissioner to release a sentenced inmate to home confinement subject to certain conditions if he or she was sentenced for (a) driving under the influence (DUI); (b) possessing less than four ounces of marijuana, a controlled substance other than a narcotic, or a hallucinogen; or (c) drug paraphernalia crimes. How would this program work? What criteria would you use to determine which inmates to release?

5. What is the status of the sex offender treatment facility planned for Montville? How does DOC deal with sex offenders who are incarcerated or otherwise under DOC supervision?

6. What do you think about recent proposals to try to make it easier for offenders to get pardons?

7. How closely does DOC work with the Board of Pardons and Paroles generally, and specifically when determining what is an appropriate plan before an inmate's release? Is there more that could be done to prepare inmates for release?

PHILOSOPHY AND BUDGET ISSUES

1. There has been a long-standing debate over whether prisons should punish or rehabilitate or do both. Do you believe that rehabilitation can occur in prison and, if so, could it be done more effectively? What alternative programs are succeeding or should be considered?

2. Budget constraints could affect DOC's programs and services. What do you think needs the most attention? What do you think is most effective dealing with the problem of recidivism? Are there programs and services that are most successful?

3. Some have questioned the costs of the UConn Health Center contract to provide inmate health care. Do you think this contract should be opened to bids from the private sector?

4. Inmates are given, or allowed to use, certain things such as televisions, radios, reading materials, and recreational items such as weights and exercise equipment. Some of these things have become controversial and some people believe that inmates should not have them. What is your position?

5. Some have discussed the different prison conditions faced by inmates sentenced to death and those sentenced to life without parole. If the death penalty is repealed retroactively, (a) will the conditions faced by inmates currently on death row change and (b) if these inmates were moved from death row, how would DOC use the death row cells? Should inmates sentenced to life without parole be treated differently than other inmates because of their sentence?

6. The DOC commissioner has the authority to release prisoners sentenced to two years or less to halfway houses, group homes, mental health facilities, or other community correction programs (CGS 18-100c). What is your philosophy about releasing prisoners under this authority?

CR:ts