February 27, 2009
MERITORIOUS GOOD CONDUCT CREDIT
By: George Coppolo, Chief Attorney
You asked for a summary and copy of the meritorious good conduct award law concerning prison inmates. You also asked what standards are used to award this credit.
Any inmate committed to Department of Correction (DOC) custody may have up to 120 days deducted from his or her sentence as an outstandingly meritorious performance award in the commissioner's discretion. The statute that authorizes the award specifies that it be granted for “exceptional personal achievement, accomplishment, and other outstandingly meritorious performance”. We did not find any DOC regulations or directives that deal with this award. We have asked DOC through its legislative liaison whether any policies or guidelines exist but she has not responded to us yet. We will forward any additional information we receive.
Any serious act of misconduct or insubordination or refusal to conform to institution regulations occurring at any time during an inmate's confinement subjects him or her, at the commissioner's or warden's discretion, to the loss of all or part of any deduction awarded under this law.
Other statutes authorize the commissioner to grant credits to reduce the sentence of certain inmates for good conduct and for employment. Because of a law enacted in 1993, neither the meritorious performance award law nor these other laws apply to offenders who are in prison for offenses committed on or after October 1, 1994.
OUTSTANDINGLY MERITORIOUS PERFORMANCE AWARD
Any sentenced DOC inmate may have up to 120 days deducted from his or her sentence as an outstandingly meritorious performance award in the discretion of the commissioner's discretion for “exceptional personal achievement, accomplishment and other outstandingly meritorious performance.” This is in addition to any other deduction the inmate earned under the good conduct sentence laws. Any serious act of misconduct or insubordination or refusal to conform to institution regulations occurring at any time during the inmate's confinement can result in the loss of all, or any part, of any reduction (CGS § 18-98b).
OTHER GOOD CONDUCT SENTENCE CREDIT LAWS
Inmates Sentenced Before October 1, 1976
Any prisoner sentenced to a term of imprisonment before October 1, 1976, may, by good conduct and obedience to prison rules, earn a commutation or reduction of 60 days for each year of a sentence of up to five years; and 90 days for the sixth and each subsequent year. In addition, an inmate can be granted five days for each month as a meritorious time service award that may be granted in the discretion of the warden and the commissioner for exemplary conduct and meritorious achievement (CGS § 18-7). Any serious act of misconduct or insubordination or persistent refusal to conform to prison regulations subjects the prisoner to the loss of all or any portion of the time earned.
Inmates Sentenced On or After October 1, 1976
Any person sentenced to a term of imprisonment, on and after October 1, 1976, may, by good conduct and obedience to prison rules, earn a commutation or reduction of his or her sentence in the amount of 10 days of a sentence of up to five years and 15 days for each month for the sixth and each subsequent year of a sentence of more than five years. In the case of an indeterminate sentence, the credit applies to both the minimum and maximum term. In the case of an indefinite sentence, the credit applies to the maximum term only. Any act of misconduct or refusal to obey prison rules subjects the prisoner to the loss of all or part of the credit (CGS § 18-7a(a)).
Inmates Sentenced for an Offense Committed On or After July 1, 1981
Any person sentenced to a term of imprisonment for an offense committed on or after July 1, 1981, may, while held in default of bond or while serving a sentence, by good conduct and obedience to prison rules, earn a reduction of his or her sentence of 10 days for each month of a sentence up to five years and 12 days for each month for the sixth and each subsequent year of a sentence that is more than five years. Misconduct or refusal to obey the rules subject the prisoner to the loss of all or part of the reduction (CGS § 18-7a(b)). Inmates sentenced for an offense committed on or after July 1, 1983 may earn the same good time credits except that if a prisoner has not yet earned sufficient good time to satisfy the good time loss, the lost good time must be deducted from any good time the inmate earns in the future (CGS § 18-7a(c)).
Good Conduct Credit for Presentence Confinement
Any person who is confined for an offense committed on or after July 1, 1981 who obeys the rules of the facility may receive a good conduct reduction of any portion of a sentence not suspended at the rate of 10 days for each 30 days of presentence confinement (CGS § 18-98d).
Each inmate who is employed within a prison, or outside on an authorized work release or educational release program, for seven consecutive days, may have one day deducted from his or her sentence for such period at the commissioner's discretion (CGS § 18-98a).
INMATES IN PRISON FOR AN OFFENSE COMMITTED ON OR AFTER OCTOBER 1, 1994
CGS § 18-100d (P.A. 93-219) provides: "Notwithstanding any other provision of the general statutes, any person convicted of a crime committed on or after October 1, 1994, shall be subject to supervision by personnel of the Department of Correction until the expiration of the maximum term or terms for which such person was sentenced”.
The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that this law prohibits the granting of any good conduct or meritorious performance award for inmates serving time in prison for offenses committed on or after October 1, 1994 (Velez v. Commissioner of Correction, 250 Conn. 536 (1999)).