Policy Changes May Affect Commutations for Prisoners in Connecticut

 Posted on April 20,2023 in Criminal Defense

Hartford Criminal LawyerIn the United States, the criminal justice system often imposes harsh penalties on those who are convicted of crimes. Violent crimes and other serious offenses may result in prison sentences that last for multiple decades. Criminal justice reform advocates have argued that these types of sentences are overly harsh, especially for offenders who committed crimes at a young age. Prior to the age of 25, people's brains are still developing, and they may not fully understand the consequences of their actions. Unfortunately, mistakes made during a person's youth can result in penalties that affect them for the rest of their lifetime.

As advocates look to make changes to how criminal offenses are prosecuted and how people are sentenced, they are also seeking to help people who have served long sentences and taken steps toward rehabilitation. Some public officials have taken action to provide relief for these prisoners and allow them to be released. In Connecticut, commutations have become available for more prisoners. However, these policies have been questioned by the state's lawmakers, and adjustments may be made to how these types of cases will be handled in the future.

Issues With Connecticut's Commutation Policy

Connecticut law allows the Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant commutations to prisoners, allowing those who have served time in prison to be released before serving the full sentence put in place during a criminal case. In 2021, Carleton Giles, the chairman of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, put a new policy in place that expanded the availability of commutations. Prior to this change, around one to two commutations were granted each year. In 2022, 71 prisoners received commutations, and an additional 25 commutations have been granted in 2023.

This increase in commutations has caused the state's lawmakers to question Giles' policy, raising concerns that people who have committed murder or other violent crimes may be released into the community and potentially threaten public safety. Based on these concerns, Governor Ned Lamont removed Giles from his position as chairman of the Board of Pardons and Paroles. However, the state Senate voted to reappoint Giles to the Board, where he will serve as a member rather than the chairman. Some legislators have also called for a suspension of commutations until the Board's policies can be reviewed.

Under the current policy, prisoners may be eligible for commutation if they have been sentenced to more than 10 years in prison and have served over 10 years of their sentence. They will be ineligible if they have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, if they have any pending criminal charges or outstanding fines or court fees, or if they will be eligible for parole within the next two years. For prisoners who are eligible for commutation, members of the Board of Pardons and Paroles review applications to determine whether a hearing will be granted. Following a hearing, a commutation may be granted based on factors such as whether a person has taken steps to improve themselves and whether they may be a risk to public safety if they are released.

Contact Our Hartford Criminal Defense Lawyer

At Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we understand the difficulties that many people face when they are involved in the criminal justice system. We work to defend clients who are facing criminal charges, helping them determine how to avoid being convicted or reduce the potential sentences they may face. We also work with prisoners who are seeking relief, including those who wish to apply for commutations or pardons. We fight to protect the rights of our clients at all times, ensuring that they can avoid harsh sentences whenever possible or reintegrate into society after serving time in prison. To learn more about how we can assist with these matters, contact our Connecticut criminal defense attorney at 860-290-8690 and set up a free consultation.






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