January Special Session, 2008
LCO No. 10110
REP. WALKER, 93rd Dist.
"AN ACT CONCERNING CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM. "
Strike section 12 in its entirety and insert the following in lieu thereof:
"Sec. 12. Section 54-124a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):
(a) There shall be a Board of Pardons and Paroles within the Department of Correction, for administrative purposes only. On and after October 1, 2004, the board shall consist of thirteen members appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of [either house] both houses of the General Assembly. In the appointment of the members, the Governor shall [endeavor to reflect the racial diversity of the state] comply with the provisions of section 4-9b. The Governor shall appoint a chairperson from among the membership. The [chairperson] members of the board appointed on or after February 1, 2008, shall be qualified by education, experience [and] or training in the administration of community corrections, parole or pardons, criminal justice, criminology, the evaluation or supervision of offenders or the provision of mental health services to offenders. Each appointment of a member of the board submitted by the Governor to the General Assembly on or after February 1, 2008, shall be referred, without debate, to the committee on the judiciary which shall report thereon not later than thirty legislative days after the date of reference.
(b) The term of each appointed member of the board serving on September 30, 2004, shall expire on said date. The term of each member of the board [beginning on or after October 1, 2004,] shall be coterminous with the term of the Governor or until a successor is chosen, whichever is later. Any vacancy in the membership of the board shall be filled for the unexpired portion of the term by the Governor.
(c) The chairperson shall devote full time to the performance of the duties under this section and shall be compensated therefor in such amount as the Commissioner of Administrative Services determines, subject to the provisions of section 4-40. The other members of [said] the board shall receive one hundred ten dollars for each day spent in the performance of their duties and shall be reimbursed for necessary expenses incurred in the performance of such duties. The chairperson or, in the chairperson's absence or inability to act, a member designated by the chairperson to serve temporarily as chairperson, shall be present at all meetings of [said] the board and participate in all decisions thereof.
(d) The chairperson shall be the executive and administrative head of said board and shall have the authority and responsibility for (1) overseeing all administrative affairs of the board, (2) assigning members to panels, (3) establishing procedural rules for members to follow when conducting hearings, reviewing recommendations made by employees of the board and making decisions, (4) adopting policies in all areas of pardons and paroles including, but not limited to, granting pardons, commutations of punishments or releases, conditioned or absolute, in the case of any person convicted of any offense against the state and commutations from the penalty of death, risk-based structured decision making and release criteria, [(3)] (5) consulting with the Department of Correction on shared issues including, but not limited to, prison overcrowding, [(4)] (6) consulting with the Judicial Department on shared issues of community supervision, and [(5)] (7) signing and issuing subpoenas to compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses at parole proceedings. Any such subpoena shall be enforceable to the same extent as subpoenas issued pursuant to section 52-143.
(e) The chairperson may serve on both pardons panels and parole release panels and shall have the authority and responsibility for assigning members to such panels. The chairperson shall assign seven members exclusively to parole release hearings and shall assign five members exclusively to pardons hearings. Except for the chairperson, no member assigned to parole release hearings may be assigned subsequently to pardons hearings and no member assigned to pardons hearings may be assigned subsequently to parole release hearings. Each parole release panel shall be composed of two members and the chairperson or a member designated to serve temporarily as chairperson, for each correctional institution. Such parole release panels shall be the paroling authority for the institutions to which they are assigned and not less than two members shall be present at each parole hearing. Each pardons panel shall be composed of three members, one of whom may be the chairperson, except that for hearings on commutations from the penalty of death, one member of the panel shall be the chairperson.
(f) The Board of Pardons and Paroles shall have independent decision-making authority to (1) grant or deny parole in accordance with sections 54-125, 54-125a, 54-125e, as amended, and 54-125g, (2) establish conditions of parole or special parole supervision in accordance with section 54-126, (3) rescind or revoke parole or special parole in accordance with sections 54-127 and 54-128, (4) grant commutations of punishment or releases, conditioned or absolute, in the case of any person convicted of any offense against the state and commutations from the penalty of death in accordance with section 54-130a, as amended.
(g) The Department of Correction shall be responsible for the supervision of any person transferred to the jurisdiction of the Board of Pardons and Paroles during such person's period of parole or special parole.
(h) The chairperson, or the chairperson's designee, and two members of the board shall conduct all parole release hearings, [and] shall, prior to July 1, 2008, approve or deny all parole releases recommended by an employee of the board pursuant to section 54-125b, as amended by this act, and shall approve or deny all parole revocations and parole rescissions recommended by an employee of the board pursuant to section 54-127a. No panel of the Board of Pardons and Paroles shall hold a hearing to determine the suitability for parole release of any person or, prior to July 1, 2008, hold a meeting to consider the recommendation of an employee of the board made pursuant to section 54-125b, as amended by this act, to grant parole to a person unless the chairperson of the board has made reasonable efforts to determine the existence of and obtain all information deemed pertinent to the panel's decision and has certified that all such pertinent information determined to exist has been obtained or is unavailable.
(i) The chairperson of the board shall appoint an executive director. The executive director shall oversee the administration of the agency and, at the discretion of the chairperson, shall: (1) Direct and supervise all administrative affairs of the board, (2) prepare the budget and annual operation plan, (3) assign staff to administrative reviews, (4) organize pardons and parole release hearing calendars, (5) implement a uniform case filing and processing system, and (6) create programs for staff and board member development, training and education.
(j) The chairperson, in consultation with the executive director, shall adopt regulations, in accordance with chapter 54, concerning:
(1) Parole revocation and rescission hearings that include implementing due process requirements;
(2) An administrative pardons process that allows an applicant convicted of a crime to be granted a pardon with respect to such crime without a hearing, unless a victim of such crime requests such a hearing, if such applicant was:
(A) Convicted of a misdemeanor and (i) such conduct no longer constitutes a crime, (ii) such applicant was under twenty-one years of age at the time of conviction and has not been convicted of a crime during the five years preceding the date on which the pardon is granted, or (iii) such conviction occurred prior to the effective date of the establishment of a program under sections 17a-692 to 17a-701, inclusive, section 46b-38c, as amended, 53a-39a, 53a-39c, 54-56e, as amended, 54-56g, as amended, 54-56i, as amended, or 54-56j for which the applicant would have been eligible had such program existed at the time of conviction, provided the chairperson determines the applicant would likely have been granted entry into such program; or
(B) Convicted of a violation of section 21a-277, 21a-278, as amended, or 21a-279 and such applicant has not been convicted of a crime during the five years preceding the date on which the pardon is granted, provided such date is at least ten years after the date of such conviction or such applicant's release from incarceration, whichever is later; and
(3) Requiring board members assigned to pardons hearings to issue written statements containing the reasons for rejecting any application for a pardon.
(k) The Board of Pardons and Paroles shall hold a pardons hearing at least once every three months and shall hold such hearings in various geographical areas of the state. The board shall not hold a pardons hearing within or on the grounds of a correctional facility except when solely for the benefit of applicants who are incarcerated at the time of such hearing.
(l) The chairperson and executive director shall establish:
(1) In consultation with the Department of Correction, a parole orientation program for all parole-eligible inmates upon their transfer to the custody of the Commissioner of Correction that will provide general information on the laws and policies regarding parole release, calculation of time-served standards, general conditions of release, supervision practices, revocation and rescission policies, and procedures for administrative review and panel hearings, and any other information that the board deems relevant for preparing inmates for parole; [and]
(2) An incremental sanctions system for parole violations including, but not limited to, reincarceration based on the type, severity and frequency of the violation and specific periods of incarceration for certain types of violations; and
(3) A formal training program for members of the board and parole officers that shall include, but not be limited to, an overview of the criminal justice system, the parole system including factors to be considered in granting parole, victim rights and services, reentry strategies, risk assessment, case management and mental health issues.
(m) The board shall employ at least one psychologist with expertise in risk assessment and recidivism of criminal offenders who shall be under the supervision of the chairperson and assist the board in its parole release decisions.
[(m)] (n) In the event of the temporary inability of any member other than the chairperson to perform his or her duties, the Governor, at the request of the board, may appoint a qualified person to serve as a temporary member during such period of inability.
[(n)] (o) The chairperson of the Board of Pardons and Paroles shall: (1) Adopt an annual budget and plan of operation, (2) adopt such rules as deemed necessary for the internal affairs of the board, and (3) submit an annual report to the Governor and General Assembly. "