Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

Amendment

 

January Session, 2015

LCO No. 8649

   
 

*SB0095208649SRO*

Offered by:

 

SEN. FASANO, 34th Dist.

SEN. WITKOS, 8th Dist.

SEN. MARTIN, 31st Dist.

SEN. MCLACHLAN, 24th Dist.

 

To: Subst. Senate Bill No. 952

File No. 748

Cal. No. 441

"AN ACT CONCERNING A SECOND CHANCE SOCIETY. "

Strike section 9 in its entirety and insert the following in lieu thereof:

"Sec. 9. Section 54-124a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2015):

(a) There shall be a Board of Pardons and Paroles within the Department of Correction, for administrative purposes only. On and after July 1, 2008, and prior to July 1, 2010, the board shall consist of eighteen members, and on and after July 1, 2010, the board shall consist of twenty members. The Governor shall appoint all members of the board with the advice and consent of both houses of the General Assembly. On and after July 1, 2008, twelve of the members shall serve exclusively on parole release panels, five of the members shall serve exclusively on pardons panels and the chairperson may serve on both parole release panels and pardons panels, except that on and after July 1, 2010, seven of the members shall serve exclusively on pardons panels. In the appointment of the members, the Governor shall specify the member being appointed as chairperson, the full-time and part-time members being appointed to serve on parole release panels and the members being appointed to serve on pardons panels. In the appointment of the members, the Governor shall comply with the provisions of section 4-9b. The Governor shall appoint a chairperson from among the membership. The members of the board appointed on or after February 1, 2008, shall be qualified by education, experience 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 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 June 30, 2008, who had been assigned by the chairperson exclusively to parole hearings, shall expire on said date. The term of each member of the board serving on June 30, 2008, who had been appointed chairperson, had been assigned by the chairperson exclusively to pardons hearings or has been appointed by the Governor on or after February 1, 2008, 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 and five of the members of the board appointed by the Governor on or after February 1, 2008, to serve on parole release panels shall devote full time to the performance of their 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 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 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, (5) consulting with the Department of Correction on shared issues including, but not limited to, prison overcrowding, (6) consulting with the Judicial Branch on shared issues of community supervision, and (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) Of the members appointed prior to February 1, 2008, 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. Prior to July 1, 2008, each parole release panel shall be composed of two members from among the members assigned by the chairperson exclusively to parole release hearings or the members appointed by the Governor on or after February 1, 2008, to serve exclusively on parole release panels, and the chairperson or a member designated to serve temporarily as chairperson, for each correctional institution. On and after July 1, 2008, and prior to October 5, 2009, each parole release panel shall be composed of two members appointed by the Governor on or after February 1, 2008, to serve on parole release panels, at least one of whom is a full-time member, and the chairperson or a full-time member designated to serve temporarily as chairperson, for each correctional institution. On and after October 5, 2009, each parole release panel shall be composed of two members appointed by the Governor to serve on parole release panels and the chairperson or a full-time 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 from among the members assigned by the chairperson exclusively to pardons hearings or the members appointed by the Governor on or after February 1, 2008, to serve on pardons panels, 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 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.

(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 from among the members assigned by the chairperson to serve exclusively on parole release panels or the members appointed by the Governor on or after February 1, 2008, to serve on parole release panels, shall conduct all parole release hearings, and shall approve or deny all parole revocations and parole rescissions recommended by an employee of the board pursuant to section 54-127a. In the case of a hearing concerning a person convicted of a violation of section 53a-54a, 53a-54c or 53a-54d, the panel shall be comprised of three of the five longest serving parole release panel members. No panel of the Board of Pardons and Paroles shall hold a hearing to determine the suitability for parole release of any 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, 53a-39a, 53a-39c, 54-56e, 54-56g, 54-56i 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 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; [. ] and

(4) In the case of any administrative parole hearing, no applicant for parole may be granted parole unless each board member or employee, who reviewed such applicant's file and any recommendation concerning such applicant, certifies that he or she reviewed such applicant's file and any such recommendation.

(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;

(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. Each member shall complete such training annually.

(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.

(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.

(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. "

After the last section, add the following and renumber sections and internal references accordingly:

"Sec. 501. Subsection (e) of section 54-125a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2015):

(e) The Board of Pardons and Paroles may hold a hearing to determine the suitability for parole release of any person whose eligibility for parole release is subject to the provisions of subdivision (2) of subsection (b) of this section upon completion by such person of eighty-five per cent of such person's definite or aggregate sentence. An employee of the board or, if deemed necessary by the chairperson, a panel of the board shall assess the suitability for parole release of such person based on the following standards: (1) Whether there is reasonable probability that such person will live and remain at liberty without violating the law, and (2) whether the benefits to such person and society that would result from such person's release to community supervision substantially outweigh the benefits to such person and society that would result from such person's continued incarceration. If a hearing is held, and if the board determines that continued confinement is necessary, the board shall articulate for the record the specific reasons why such person and the public would not benefit from such person serving a period of parole supervision while transitioning from incarceration to the community. No hearing pursuant to the provisions of this subsection may proceed unless the parole release panel is in possession of the complete file for such applicant, including any documentation from the Department of Correction, the trial record, the sentencing record and any file of any previous parole hearing. Each member of the panel shall certify that all such documentation has been reviewed in preparation for such hearing. If a hearing is not held, the board shall document the specific reasons for not holding a hearing and provide such reasons to such person. No person shall be released on parole without receiving a hearing. The decision of the board under this subsection shall not be subject to appeal.

Sec. 502. Section 54-126a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2015):

(a) (1) For the purposes of this section, "victim" means a person who is a victim of a crime, the legal representative of such person, a member of a deceased victim's immediate family or a person designated by a deceased victim in accordance with section 1-56r.

[(b) At a] (2) The Board of Pardons and Paroles shall ensure that at least two victims of any crime register his or her name and address with the board, provided there are two victims of such crime. If there are three victims of such crime, the board shall ensure each such victim so registers with the board. If there is only one victim of such crime, the board shall ensure that such victim so registers. Any other victim of such crime may register with the board. A victim may designate another person to receive notices and to represent the victim at hearings. Prior to any hearing held by a panel [of the Board of Pardons and Paroles] for the purpose of determining the eligibility for parole of an inmate incarcerated for the commission of [any] such crime, the board shall notify in writing each registered victim of such crime and any other victim of such crime who is known to the board, the Department of Correction or the Office of the Victim Advocate of the time, date and location of the hearing and that such victim may make a statement or submit a written statement pursuant to subsection (b) of this section. At any such hearing, based on a statement of the Victim Advocate or the Victim Advocate's designee, the record shall reflect that every effort was made to contact all victims and their next of kin. If there is no known victim or no such victim can be located, the board shall notify the chief law enforcement of the town in which such crime occurred of the time, date and location of such hearing.

(b) Each such panel shall permit any victim of the crime for which the inmate is incarcerated to appear before the panel for the purpose of making a statement for the record concerning whether the inmate should be released on parole or the nature of any terms or conditions to be imposed upon any such release. In lieu of such appearance, the victim may submit a written statement to the panel and the panel shall make such statement a part of the record at the parole hearing.

(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the board from exercising its discretion to permit a member or members of a victim's immediate family to appear before the panel and make a statement in accordance with subsection (b) of this section.

Sec. 503. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2015) (a) Prior to any hearing conducted by the Board of Pardons and Paroles to determine the suitability for parole release under the provisions of chapter 961 of the general statutes, the board shall notify the office of the Chief State's Attorney of such hearing by certified mail. Such notice shall identify the applicant being considered for parole and the time, date and place of such hearing.

(b) Any such hearing shall begin with a member of the parole release panel reading into the record of the hearing the records and documentation that shall be considered at such hearing. Any request for any such record or documentation by the office of the Chief State's Attorney or the Chief Public Defender shall be granted and shall not be subject to the provisions of chapter 14 of the general statutes. "

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Sec. 9

October 1, 2015

54-124a

Sec. 501

October 1, 2015

54-125a(e)

Sec. 502

October 1, 2015

54-126a

Sec. 503

October 1, 2015

New section