Richard Halapin Jr., 37, of Connecticut has spent more than half of his adult life in prison and has managed to accumulate 15 felony charges, 22 misdemeanor charges, and 18 convictions since his teens, says the Hartford Courant. He is proof that an entire category of Connecticut laws – designed to increase punishment for “persistent offenders” – is under-used, at best, and at worst, useless. Halapin is serving a 2-year prison term. State Victim Advocate James Papillo said Halapin is typical of many career criminals who are eligible for longer-than-usual prison sentences under special state repeat-offender laws, but who never receive one because prosecutors rarely invoke those laws.
Fewer than 50 inmates of a state prison population of 19,000 are serving sentences related to persistent-offender laws. Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane, acknowledged that “it’s rare” for prosecutors to use those statutes. Prosecutors say judges don’t come close to imposing maximum penalties under the basic statutes for crimes such as larceny and assault, so there is no reason to try to “enhance” those sentences by using what prosecutors say are complicated and administratively burdensome persistent-offender laws.