One of the first Connecticut public safety reforms arising from the highly-publicized Cheshire slayings will be a computer system allowing parole officials easy access to pre-sentence reports and other information on inmates seeking release from prison, reports the Hartford Courant. The new system is expected in January, closing an information gap exposed by the paroles of the two defendants in the Cheshire case. Separately, legislators will hold a hearing next month on proposed changes in sentencing laws, with an eye toward legislative action during a special session in January.
Parole officials lacked pre-sentence reports and sentencing transcripts when they approved the releases of the two burglars arrested months later fleeing from the house where a doctor was badly beaten and his wife and two daughters had been killed. Rep. Michael Lawlor said that if Lawlor said that if parole officials had reviewed the sentencing transcript of one suspect, they probably would not have released him. At his sentencing in 2002, the judge, prosecutor, and his own lawyer raised questions about his mental state. Lisa Holden, co-chairwoman of a state parole task force, said the criminal justice system needs to adopt a “medical model,” comparing offender records to patients’ medical histories. “There has to be a way to have a story that we can add to as this person goes through our system,” she said. Lawlor said technological and turf issues remain. “That’s just not close to being an option at this time,” he said.