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Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney for discretionary releaseWhile the COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone’s lives in a variety of ways, it has impacted prison inmates disproportionately. For those who are held in correctional facilities, it can be difficult or impossible to follow social distancing recommendations, and inmates may be unable to avoid becoming infected. The risk of infection has caused concern about the ongoing safety of inmates, especially since they often do not have access to adequate medical care. Because of this, the number of discretionary releases being granted by Connecticut state officials has increased, and advocates are calling for more releases, including for people being held in pre-trial detention and those who have been charged with or convicted of low-level offenses.

What Is Discretionary Release?

A discretionary release occurs when an inmate is allowed to leave prison before their sentence has been completed. In many cases, this release will take the form of parole, which will require a person to meet certain conditions before being released, while also requiring them to follow certain rules and restrictions following their release. A parolee will be under the supervision of the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles. Violations of the terms of a person’s parole will result in their being taken into custody by a parole officer, and a hearing will be held to determine whether parole should be modified, extended, or revoked.

Discretionary Release During COVID-19

The state of Connecticut has increased the use of discretionary releases during the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a result, the population of prisoners has decreased by about 25% since March of 2020. However, groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have advocated for the release of more prisoners through pardons or other forms of discretionary release. They have also called on Governor Ned Lamont to use the emergency powers granted to him by the state’s constitution during a public health emergency, which allow the governor to take appropriate measures to protect the health and safety of inmates in state prisons.

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parole, Hartford criminal defense attorneyLast week, one of America’s most famous inmates captured the attention of the nation once again—just as he had 40-plus years ago on the football field and 22 years ago in arguably the most publicized criminal trial in our country’s history. This time, O.J. Simpson was up for parole after serving nine years in prison for armed robbery in 2007. The hearing was televised, and millions watched as the four-person parole board announced that Simpson will be released on parole later this year. For many, it may seem surreal that former football star will be going free, but it is important to understand that parole is not the same thing as full freedom.

What Is Parole?

Parole is often confused with probation, and while the two are similar in some ways, they are very different things. Probation is typically used as an alternative to a prison sentence for relatively minor offenses. Some offenders may also receive probation in addition to a short period of incarceration. Individuals on probation serve their sentences while living in the community and under the supervision of probation officers. The court often sets strict conditions of probation and if those conditions are violated, the offender risks being sent to jail.

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