October 9, 2003 98-R-0508
FROM: George Coppolo
RE: Parole - 85% Rule
You asked us to contact the parole board to determine whether inmates sentenced for violent offenses are serving at least 85% of their sentence in prison.
Bob Moran, who is in charge of the Field Division for the Board of Parole advised us that his agency is enforcing the 85% rule. This rule makes violent offenders ineligible for parole until they serve at least 85% of their sentence in prison. He also advised us that because his agency does not keep statistics on the length of time prisoners serve before being granted parole, he cannot tell us how much longer prisoners are serving in prison now than before the 85% rule went into effect.
EIGHTY FIVE PERCENT RULE
By law, anyone convicted of an offense for which parole is available that involved the use, attempted use, or threatened use of force against another person is ineligible for parole until he serves at least 85% of the sentence imposed (CGS § 54-125a, PA 95-255). This same law required the Board of Parole to adopt regulations by July 1, 1996 to ensure that these offenders serve at least 85% of their sentence in prison, and mandated that these regulations include guidelines and procedures for classifying people as violent offenders that are not limited to the elements of the offense or offenses for which they are convicted.
The Board of Parole adopted these regulations on May 2, 1997 (CT State Agency Regs. § 54-125a-1 through 54-125a-6). These guidelines identify specific offenses with violence as an element and make those convicted of one of these offenses ineligible for parole until they have served 85% of their sentence. They also direct the board in all other cases to determine whether the underlying act or acts constituting the offense or any offense for which the inmate is serving a sentence, or any other relevant information demonstrates the inmate is a violent offender. If using this procedure the board determines an offender is a violent offender he is also ineligible for parole until he serves at least 85% of this sentence in prison.