Democratic legislators in Connecticut say they will propose a major prison reform package during a special session next month, the Hartford Courant says. The plan would reduce the number of inmates in the state’s crowded prison system and cut the rising prison budget, which now stands at roughly $577 million.
State Rep. William Dyson, D-New Haven, said, “I think there is an enormous amount of support for this.” Democrats failed to pass a similar proposal earlier this year during budget talks after their leadership gave in to Republican resistance to bring the measure to a vote.
A draft proposal calls for mandatory parole for most offenders. It would give the parole board authority to grant early parole and allow correction officials to grant pretrial release to some offenders.
The bill would allow judges to divert from mandatory, minimum-sentence guidelines for certain nonviolent crimes and drug offenses, and it would address the sentencing disparity between crack and powdered cocaine. It also calls on the judicial branch and parole board to submit plans to reduce by 25 percent the number of offenders re-incarcerated for technical violations, such as missing a meeting or failing a drug screening. One of the fastest-growing groups in prison includes those incarcerated for technical violations of their release.