OFFICE OF FISCAL ANALYSIS

Legislative Office Building, Room 5200

Hartford, CT 06106 (860) 240-0200

http://www.cga.ct.gov/ofa

EMERGENCY CERTIFICATION

HB-7104

AN ACT IMPLEMENTING PROVISIONS OF THE STATE BUDGET FOR THE BIENNIUM ENDING JUNE 30, 2017 CONCERNING GENERAL GOVERNMENT PROVISIONS RELATING TO CRIMINAL JUSTICE.


OFA Fiscal Note

State Impact:

Agency Affected

Fund-Effect

FY 16 $

FY 17 $

Correction, Dept.

GF - Implements the Budget - Savings

12.5 million

18.9 million

Correction, Dept.

GF - Implements the Budget - Cost

1.6 million

2.9 million

Note: GF=General Fund

Municipal Impact: None

Explanation

The bill makes various changes to statutes regarding drug possession that implement PA 15-244. The changes result in an estimated savings to the Department of Correction (DOC) of $6.6 million in FY 16 and at least $12.4 million in FY 17 through reduction in prison population and corresponding facility closures. However, PA 15-244 includes a higher savings target of $12.5 million in FY 16 and $18.9 million in FY 17 in the Department of Correction. In addition the budget includes additional funding for related Second Chance policy initiatives in the Office of Policy and Management, Department of Housing, State Department of Education, and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Section 1 reduces the penalties for felony drug possession crimes to class A misdemeanors. Based on the current prison population, this will reduce the prison population by approximately 1,120 inmates during FY 16. These changes are summarized in the following chart.

Changes in Prison Population based on Changes to Drug Penalties

Change

Population Reduction

Parole of sentenced prisoners

-550

Presentence population

-480

Sentenced Population changes

-90

Total Reduction During FY 16

-1,120

Currently there are approximately 550 sentenced inmates incarcerated for offenses changed in the bill. The bill allows the Commissioner of Correction to consider the changes to statute in the bill when making parole decisions. The Commissioner has the authority to release these inmates from supervision in the facility to parole supervision in the community. In addition there are approximately 480 un-sentenced inmates incarcerated for these offenses that may avoid prison sentences. Lastly, approximately 90 offenders over the course of the last three quarters of FY 16 will avoid prison sentences based on the changes in the bill. These savings assume that although offenders can be sentenced to up to a year in prison, most will be sentenced to probation or subject to supervision in the community by the Department of Correction. The additional supervision in the community is anticipated to result in a cost to DOC of $1.3 million in FY 16 and $2.6 million in FY 17 related to increased parole officer staffing and contract costs related to electronic monitoring. These costs are included in PA 15-244. The changes are not anticipated to result in a cost to the Judicial Department related to increased probation supervision in the community. The increase in probation caseload of 90 individuals does not have a substantive impact on the probation system.

Based on the projected reduction in prison population due to changes in the bill, DOC should be able to close three prison annexes over the course of FY 16 as the prison population decreases. The FY 16 projected savings associated with the projected closures is $6.6 million. The annualized savings in FY 17 is $12.4 million.

Section 1 also reduces the penalty for the crime of possession of drugs on or near school property that result in potential savings to DOC. The section eliminates the mandatory minimum prison term of 2 years and inserts a Class A misdemeanor with a required split sentence of imprisonment and probation with required community service. To the extent that the changes in the bill reduce the length of sentences associated with offenses, savings to DOC would result. There is no data available on how many offenses the changes in the bill will affect.

Section 9 makes changes to the membership of the Board of Pardons and Parole that result in a net cost of approximately $315,000 beginning in FY 16. The section reduces the number of part time members of the Board of Pardons and Parole from 14 to a maximum of 5. The section also increases the number of full time members from 6 to 10. The reduction in part-time members results in a savings of $200,000 (depending on the number of part time members hired and their utilization) and increasing the number of full-time members results in a cost of approximately $515,000.

The Out Years

Sources:

Department of Correction Summary of Offenders by Controlling Offense, as of 1/1/2015


The annualized ongoing fiscal impact identified above would continue into the future subject to inflation. In addition, future savings would result from fewer inmates sentenced to prison for changes to statute contained in the bill.

The preceding Fiscal Impact statement is prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for the purposes of information, summarization and explanation and does not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose. In general, fiscal impacts are based upon a variety of informational sources, including the analyst's professional knowledge. Whenever applicable, agency data is consulted as part of the analysis, however final products do not necessarily reflect an assessment from any specific department.