State prison population up as paroles are down

Hartford (AP) - The state's prison population is rising, with state officials crediting fewer paroles following a 2007 home invasion in which a mother and her two daughters were murdered.

The Republican-American reports that in March, the prison population approached 16,000 by the end of the year. The count rose above 17,000 four months later, or about 500 more than projected.

State officials said that by early fall, the number could be between 17,500 and 17,600. The state said it might be necessary to open a prison but the Malloy administration later said inmate counts are not likely to require that.

State officials say paroles were down 54 percent between June 2012 and last month. Overall, 250 fewer inmates were released through parole or other supervised release programs.

The crime demonstrated that parole boards had been paroling inmates without reviewing pertinent records. The two men convicted in the killings were paroled burglars at the time of the home invasion.

The law now requires more information be provided to parole boards, including arrest reports, presentence investigations, sentencing transcripts and prison records.

Inmates must follow plans that detail how to win early release and must follow prison rules.

The Board of Pardons and Paroles also adopted new policies and procedures to standardize decision-making and document its decisions to grant or deny parole.

Michael Lawlor, under secretary for criminal justice policy and planning in the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, said compiling and reviewing all required records takes time and the more structured approach used to consider parole requests also is more time consuming, he said. As a result, there has been a significant slowdown in paroles.

By state law, inmates convicted of nonviolent crimes are eligible for parole after serving 50 percent of their sentences and violent offenders must serve 85 percent. Parole is denied for murder and certain other offenses.

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