OFFICE OF FISCAL ANALYSIS
Legislative Office Building, Room 5200
Hartford, CT 06106 _ (860) 240-0200
http: //www. cga. state. ct. us/ofa
AN ACT CONCERNING PRISON OVERCROWDING.
As Amended by House "A" (LCO 4442), House "B" (LCO 3275), House "C" (LCO 3054), House "D" (LCO 4683)
House Calendar No. : 366
FY 05 $
FY 06 $
Criminal Justice Agencies
GF - Net Impact
Note: GF=General Fund
Passage of the bill results in significant costs and savings primarily related to increasing the supervision of offenders in the community and decreasing the incarceration of certain offenders. Because annual costs associated with supervising offenders in the community is less expensive than annual incarceration costs, the net impact of the bill would be significant savings. Many of the bill's provisions seek to increase the pool of those eligible for parole. In addition, the bill establishes various methods of reducing recidivism that would potentially enhance anticipated savings.
The bill makes various policy and statutory changes within the criminal justice system including:
(1) Creates a new Board of Pardons and Paroles (BPP);
(2) Modifies standards for special parole, parole releases and eligibility and the administrative parole process;
(3) Specifies the authority of the Board of Parole and the Department of Correction (DOC) regarding the release of inmates to the community;
(4) Requires that contracts to send inmates out of state be submitted to the Legislature;
(5) Increases the daily credit earned by incarcerated inmates toward the payment of a fine or bail;
(6) Adds the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) to the Prison and Jail Overcrowding Commission (PJOC);
(7) Makes technical changes to provisions and establishes time limitations regarding liens on offenders' inheritances, wages, pensions and property;
(8) Makes technical adjustments to provisions authorizing the court to divert alcohol- and drug-dependent offenders to treatment programs;
(9) Establishes pre-trial served credit for juvenile offenders;
(10) Requires the Legislature to track the bill's results;
(11) Requires the Judicial Department, DOC, and BPP to develop plans to reduce their technical violators population by 20%;
(12) Requires DOC request proposals from nonprofit providers for 500-bed Community Justice Center;
(13) Authorizes "compassionate parole" for certain offenders; and
(14) Requires various agencies to develop and implement a comprehensive community re-entry strategy for offenders.
FISCAL IMPACT BY SECTION
Section 1 of the bill merges the Board of Pardons and Board of Parole into the new Board of Pardons and Paroles (BPP). 1 The bill provides that the board would consist of a total of 13 members with 8 being assigned to Parole and 5 assigned to Pardons. The bill also requires the BPP chairman to appoint an executive director and that the board conduct pardons hearings at least four times per year. Passage of these provisions would result in costs of $100,000 - $120,000. These costs include $75,000 - $85,000 for an executive director and $25,000 - $35,000 for additional pardons hearings. 2
Section 2, which would not result in any fiscal impact, authorizes a name change throughout the statutes from the Board of Pardons or Board of Parole to the new Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Section 3 of the bill does the following: (1) prohibits parole for those convicted of 1st degree aggravated sexual assault; 3 (2) permits parole for certain offenders convicted crimes involving firearms w/in 1,500 feet of school; and (3) establishes a conditional parole release policy. 4 There are currently 300 offenders in DOC custody that have served 75% of their sentence but have yet to be paroled. If these offenders or some portion were granted conditional parole, there would be a savings to DOC offset by the cost of additional community supervision staff. The annual cost per parolee is about $5,000 (including community programming) and the annual cost per DOC inmate is $26,000. 5 Thus, there is an annual savings of about $20,000 to supervise an offender in the community as opposed to incarceration.
The average length of all sentences is about 3 years or 36 months. If 100 offenders were conditionally released to parole after completion of 75% of their sentences, there would be a total savings of 27,400 bed days. The corresponding annual savings would be about $2 million. Similarly, the annual cost to supervise these offenders on parole would be $500,000. Hence, there would be a net savings of $1. 5 million. 6
Implementation of the above proposal depends in part on coordination with the courts, corrections, and parole. In addition, implementation would require the reallocation of some resources to create community-based programs and supervision for the increased numbers of parolees. Furthermore, sustained savings would have to be achieved through the closing of existing facilities.
Section 4 of the bill extends parole to certain offenders (prohibited under current law) including those convicted of manslaughter, 1st degree assault, 1st degree robbery and kidnapping. There are currently about 3,000 offenders (sentenced and unsentenced) in DOC custody that fall into these categories. In addition, the bill permits parole for offenders with more than 3 years remaining on their sentence. To the extent that these provisions result in more offenders being supervised in the community and less incarceration, passage of the bill would result in a net savings.
Section 5, which would not result in any fiscal impact, makes technical adjustments to the special parole laws.
Section 6 of the bill requires the implementation of an administrative hearing process for revocations and rescissions. The Board of Parole takes full panel action on about 2,000 hearings and administratively acts on another 2,000. Approximately, half of the full panel actions involve revocations and rescissions. To the extent that this provision increases the parole grant rate of the board, passage of the bill would result in net savings. 7
Sections 7 and 8 make technical adjustments to the parole laws that are not anticipated to result in any fiscal impact.
Section 9 authorizes DOC to transfer certain offenders who have been granted parole and are within 18 months of their parole release date to approved community programs and residences. Approximately, 1,400 offenders are released to parole per year. If the time spent in a correctional facility were reduced for these offenders as a result of this provision, net savings would result.
Section 10 authorizes pre-trial release of certain offenders charged with a class D felony or misdemeanor to the community. There are currently 18,700 inmates in DOC custody and 23% are unsentenced. Of these 4,300 offenders, there are 1,200 (sentenced and unsentenced) offenders in DOC custody that meet the specifications of this provision. To the extent that this provision results in more offenders being supervised in the community and less incarceration, passage of the bill would result in a net savings.
Section 11 authorizes DOC to enter into a contract to send an additional 2,000 inmates out of state. Passage of the bill could result in annual significant savings of about $18. 25 million. Connecticut currently has a contract with the State of Virginia to house 500 offenders. The cost to house inmates in Virginia is approximately $25/day less than the cost to house these same offenders in state.
Section 12 and 13 increase daily credit earned by inmates toward fines and bail to the average daily cost of incarceration. 8 The number of offenders that would be impacted by this provision is unknown at this time. However, to the extent that passage of the bill results in offenders being released to the community earlier than what the current law provides there would be savings. There are currently 283 offenders serving sentences for fines valued at approximately $233,835. At $50/day, the number of bed days would be about 4,677. At $75/day, the number of bed days would be 3,118 bed days, which is a difference of over 1,559 bed days. 9
Section 14, which would not result in the need for additional resources, adds DMHAS and the Board of Parole to PJOC.
Section 15 allows the state to place liens on the inheritance assets of persons receiving state aid. Current law provides that 50% of such assets are assignable to the state to recover costs of incarceration. Passage of the bill could result in significant revenue gain.
Sections 16 and 20 make technical changes to provisions regarding disbursement of inmate wages. Passage of these provisions would not result in any fiscal impact.
Sections 17 through 19 and 21 establish certain limits on offenders' property, lawsuit proceeds, inheritances, pensions and estates that the state can place liens on to seek reimbursement for incarceration costs. Passage of the bill would result in a potential revenue loss.
Section 22 allows the court to order suspension of prosecution and treatment for alcohol or drug dependency if the court makes certain findings concerning a defendant (effective July 1, 2004). 10 This option would be available to the court even where a defendant had been ordered to treatment twice prior. This change could divert up to 450 people from prison and into treatment programs annually. The potential state savings from reducing prison admissions under this provision, net treatment and supervision costs described below, is estimated to be greater than $1 million annually beginning in FY 05.
Although some or all of these clients may be referred for treatment under DMHAS, it is not known how many of these clients actually will receive services. The DMHAS service system, for both inpatient and outpatient services, is currently operating at capacity, with lengthy waiting lists for services. However, given the current service cost structure, it is likely that DMHAS will incur significant costs for any additional clients who do receive services due to the provisions of this bill. The Judicial Department may also provide for treatment of clients and community supervision under this provision in the bill. Passage of this provision would result in significant costs.
Section 23 provides that any juvenile who is arrested and held at various state-owned and operated or contracted facilities earn a reduction in any subsequent period of probation imposed that is equal to the number of days spent in said facilities. There are approximately 2,500 juveniles on probation on any day. The number of those who were previously held in secure facilities is unknown at this time, but could be substantial. A decrease to the average length of supervision would reduce the caseload of juvenile probation officers and could result in savings for various contracted services.
Section 24 requires the legislature's Program Review and Investigation Committee and Office of Fiscal Analysis to track the outcomes of the bill. Passage of this provision would not result in the need for additional resources.
Section 25 requires the Judicial Branch, the Board of Parole and DOC to develop plans to reduce the number of incarcerations due to technical violations of probation by 20%. Development of these plans that are to include cost estimates would not result in the need for additional resources. It should be noted that about 10% of DOC's sentenced population (2,000 inmates) has an offense status of violation of probation. To the extent that the implementation of the plans reduces the prison population, there would be significant savings.
Section 26 requires DOC to request proposals from nonprofit providers for a 500-bed Community Justice Center in Hartford. To the extent that private for-profit corporations would provide services at a lower rate, passage of this provision would result in costs.
Section 27 authorizes compassionate parole for certain offenders. As this provision is not anticipated to affect many offenders, passage would result in a minimal fiscal impact.
Section 28 requires various agencies to develop and implement comprehensive re-entry strategies. While the precise impact of this provision is uncertain, the implementation of the strategies could result in potential significant costs and savings.
Section 29 authorizes DOC to transfer inmates on work or education release to approved private or community residences after successful participation in a residential program. Passage of this provision is anticipated to have a minimal impact.
Section 30 increases, from 15 to 30 days, the length of time DOC can release an inmate on furlough in certain circumstances. This section is not anticipated to result in any fiscal impact.
Section 31 and 32 repeal certain statutory provisions as relevant to the previous sections of the bill. There is no fiscal impact.
House Amendment "A" makes the following changes: (1) specifies that the Board of Pardons and Paroles (BPP) will be within DOC for administrative purposes only; (2) clarifies the authority and jurisdiction of the BPP and DOC with regard to certain offenders released from confinement; and (3) requires that the Legislative Program Review and Investigation Committee conduct a study on the imposition and impact of mandatory minimum sentences. Passage of the amendment would not result in any fiscal impact.
House Amendment "B" specifies that the state is prohibited from recovering the costs of incarceration from work performed by inmates as part of certain programs during their confinement. Passage of the amendment reduces potential revenue gain. 11
House Amendment "C" requires that the Prison and Jail Overcrowding Commission establish a subcommittee on corrections behavioral health composed of the commissioners of Correction and Mental Health and Addiction Services and a representative of the University of Connecticut Health Center. Passage of the amendment would not result in the need for additional resources.
House Amendment "D" eliminates the provision of the bill that allows the court to deviate from the mandatory minimum sentences for certain nonviolent offenses. The fiscal note on the original bill indicated savings from this provision due to a decrease in the number of incarceration bed days. 12 The average daily inmate cost is about $74. Passage of the amendment would reduce the savings in the bill.
1 The new board would be within DOC for administrative purposes only.
2 The current Board of Pardons meets twice per year and has a budget of $37,434.
3 There are currently 40 inmates in DOC custody with a primary offense of aggravated sexual assault.
4 Under the proposal, inmates eligible for parole after serving 50% of their sentence would be granted a conditional parole release after serving 75% and inmates and inmates eligible for parole after serving 85% of their sentence would be granted a conditional parole release after serving 85%.
5 This is based on average parole officer caseload of 60 parolees.
6 Currently, DOC and Parole consider over 3,000 offenders per month for community supervision.
7 From February 2003 to February 2004, the average grant rates for full panel hearings and administrative hearings are about 88% and 79% respectively.
8 The current average daily cost of incarceration is $75 and current law provides that a person receive $50 per day for time spent in prison.
9 The average daily inmate cost is $72/day but when fringe benefit and debt service costs are included, the cost rises to $96/day.
10 The court must find that the accused person was an alcohol-dependent or drug-dependent person at the time of the crime, and the person needs and is likely to benefit from treatment. Prosecution cannot be suspended for a defendant who is charged with a class A, B or C felony, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or who was twice previously ordered to be treated under CGS Section 17a-696.
11 According to the Attorney General, the state has collected about $2 million in the last 5 years related to recovering prison costs.
12 About half of the 1,300 inmates currently serving mandatory minimum sentences in the Department of Correction are for nonviolent offenses.