Topic:
PRISONS AND PRISONERS; PROBATION; SENTENCING; PAROLE; ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE; WORK RELEASE PROGRAMS; SEX CRIMES;
Location:
PROBATION;

OLR Research Report


February 3, 2006

 

2006-R-0108

AUTHORITY TO SET CONDITIONS OF RELEASE

By: Sandra Norman-Eady, Chief Attorney

George Coppolo, Chief Attorney

You asked if courts, the Board of Pardons and Paroles, and probation and parole officers are authorized to set release conditions that place restrictions on residence, jobs, hours outside of the home, and movement, including their ability to require electronic monitoring. You are also interested in the authority and duties of sex offender units in the Office of Adult Probation (OAP).

SUMMARY

The law authorizes courts, the Board of Pardons and Paroles, and probation, but not parole, officers to set release conditions. Courts and probation officers set the conditions for release on probation and the Board of Pardons and Paroles for release on parole or special parole. Department of Correction (DOC) parole officers supervise inmates who are granted parole.

While it appears that courts, the Board of Pardons and Paroles, and probation officers can place restrictions on residences and jobs, set curfews, and monitor movement, sex offenders are the most likely probationers or parolees to be so closely and intensely supervised, according to OAP. The probation statutes specifically authorize electronic monitoring as a condition.

CONDITIONS OF PROBATION

Courts have broad authority to either sentence a defendant to conditional discharge or probation following a suspended sentence or incarceration. Either disposition can be an alternative to incarceration. The period of probation and conditional discharge can range from five years for a felony to one year for an unclassified misdemeanor.

The court may sentence a person to probation upon conviction of any crime, other than a class A felony, if it believes that: (1) confinement is not necessary to protect the public; (2) the defendant needs guidance, training, or assistance which can be effectively administered through probation services; and (3) probation is consistent with the ends of justice.

The court may impose a sentence of conditional discharge for an offense, other than a class A felony, if it believes: (1) confinement is not necessary to protect the public and (2) probation supervision is not appropriate (CGS 53a-29).

When imposing a sentence of probation or conditional discharge, the court may order the defendant to comply with any of the following conditions:

1. work at suitable employment or attend school or vocational training to gain the skills necessary for suitable employment;

2. undergo medical or psychiatric treatment and, if necessary, remain institutionalized for that purpose;

3. support his dependents and meet other family obligations;

4. make restitution;

5. remain lawful;

6. participate in an alternative incarceration program if his prison sentence was suspended unless he was convicted of a capital felony, a class A felony, a drug crime, first- or second-degree manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle, misconduct with a motor vehicle, criminally negligent homicide, sexual assault in a spousal or cohabitating relationship, or any offense that carries a mandatory minimum sentence;

7. reside in a DOC-approved residential community center or halfway house;

8. participate in a community service or community service labor program;

9. undergo specialized sexual offender treatment if convicted of a sex crime;

10. register as a sex offender if convicted of a crime that triggers registration;

11. submit to electronic monitoring;

12. participate in an anti-bias crime education program if convicted of a hate crime;

13. undergo psychiatric or psychological counseling or participate in an available animal cruelty prevention and education program if convicted of a crime involving cruelty to animals;

14. post a bond or other security; and

15. satisfy any other conditions reasonably related to his rehabilitation (CGS 53a-30).

A court may require that a defendant subject to electronic monitoring pay the cost of electronic monitoring services up to $5 per day (plus inflation since the $5 maximum was set in 2000). If the court finds that the defendant is indigent and unable to pay, it must waive the costs (CGS 53a-30(e)). According to William Carbone, executive director of OAP, the cost of electronic monitoring varies by type and offenders are rarely able to pay. Electronic bracelets cost $3.22 per day, passive monitoring (i.e., where an e-mail is sent or a beep goes off if an offender goes past set boundaries) costs a little over $5 per day, and active monitoring (i.e., where an offender's movement is tracked on a computer screen) costs over $12 a day, according to Carbone.

In addition to courts, the OAP may set conditions of probation. By law, OAP may require a defendant to comply with some or all of the conditions a court could have imposed that are not inconsistent with any conditions the court actually imposed (CGS 53a-30(b)). Currently, OAP uses one of two forms to set conditions of probation. It uses JD-AD-110 (attached) to set conditions for non-sex offenders and JD-CR-131 (attached) to set conditions for sex offenders.

Of the 11 standard conditions for non-sex offenders, the ones relevant to your request include requirements for them to:

1. keep their probation officer informed of their whereabouts and give immediate notice of any change in address or employment,

2. get a probation officer's permission before leaving the state, and

3. refrain from driving a motor vehicle if driving privilege is under suspension.

Probation officers using JD-CR-131 select, from a total of 25 possible conditions, the ones that apply to each sex offender. The conditions relevant to your request require probationers to:

1. get a probation officer's approval before contacting their crime victim or the victim's family,

2. have their place of residence approved by a probation officer and get permission before moving or sleeping overnight at another location,

3. have a probation officer pre-approve their employment,

4. abide by any curfew a probation officer imposes, and

5. submit to electronic monitoring as directed.

Courts and OAP may also place defendants on intensive probation. Under this alternative incarceration program, offenders are placed in the community under close supervision and restriction to ensure public safety, reduce prison overcrowding, and contribute to participants' rehabilitation. In addition to the above stated conditions, it is mandatory that participants with histories of drug or alcohol abuse submit to periodic drug or alcohol tests (CGS 54-105).

By law, a judge may at any time during the period of probation order the arrest of, or issue a notice to appear to, anyone who is alleged to have violated conditions of probation or conditional discharge. If the violation is established by a preponderance of the evidence, the court may (1) continue the probation, (2) modify or enlarge the probation conditions, (3) extend the probationary period up to the statutory maximum, or (4) revoke the probation and require the defendant to serve the imposed sentence or a lesser prison sentence (CGS 53a-32).

According to Carbone, probationers and their attorneys have complained about conditions of probation but there have been no court challenges to OAP's authority to set them.

SEX OFFENDER UNITS IN THE OFFICE OF ADULT PROBATION

The sex offender units were designed so that probation, treatment, and victim services professionals could work together with the offender. The offenders placed in this unit are referred for a sex offender evaluation. This evaluation is used to determine appropriate probation conditions and the level of supervision required.

Probation officers assigned to the unit collaborate with treatment providers regarding the probationer's treatment needs and progress. At times group sessions, involving all of the professionals and the probationer are held at OAP.

CONDITIONS OF PAROLE

The Board of Pardons and Paroles has “independent decision-making authority to…establish conditions of parole or special parole supervision in accordance with section 54-126” (CGS 54-124a (f)). This broad authority appears to include the power to impose the conditions you specified in your question.

CGS 54-126 authorizes the board to establish such rules and regulations under which a prisoner may be paroled. It also authorizes the parole panel for a particular case to establish special conditions for the parole. It requires the board chairman to enforce these rules, regulations, and conditions and to revoke parole for any reason that the panel, or the chairman with the panel's approval, deems sufficient.

We spoke with Rich Sparaco, acting director of the Board of Pardons and Paroles; Steve Stroms, an assistant attorney general who advises and represents the board; and Gary Barwikowski, who supervises DOC's Special Management Unit, which focuses on sex offenders about typical parole conditions. They advised us that the conditions specified in your question are often made a condition of parole. The Special Management Unit has five parole officers with a caseload of around 180 people. The unit will have two additional officers in the near future. It has existed for around 10 years. Parole officers assigned to the special unit receive additional training and must do more intensive supervision.

According to Barwikowski, electronic monitoring has been used with selected parolees for over 10 years. Beginning in January of this year, the board has started to use a form of electronic monitoring for some offenders that actually tracks the parolee's whereabouts. This is called Global Positioning System (GPS) monitoring. We have asked for statistics on how often the board has imposed electronic monitoring and we will forward this information to you when we receive it.

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