HARTFORD — State Rep. Dan Carter, of Bethel, yesterday ripped legislative Democrats for Tuesday’s budget bill that eliminates mandatory jail time for chronic drunken drivers while giving many inmates, including sex offenders, the possibility of early release for “good” behavior while behind bars.
The drunken driving aspect allows repeat offenders to serve little or no jail time, regardless of the number of convictions, subject to the total discretion of the corrections commissioner. Carter said the bill, if enacted into law, would see Connecticut set a new standard for going easy on DWI convictions.
“This legislature just sent a horrible message to the people of this state by, among other things, eroding the great work others have down to get tough on people who drink and drive,” Carter said. “They just gave a political appointee the power to determine how a sentence will be carried out.”
Carter said he was particularly shocked by the Democrat plan to give inmates—including sex offenders—a bright path to early release should they behave well while in prison.
“Under this bill, pedophiles will be allowed to have time taken off their sentence for being a model inmate,” Carter said, who saw Democrats shoot down his amendment to remove convicted sex offenders for the pool of inmates eligible for “good” time credit. “How do we explain that to a victim’s family?”
Democrats approved H.B. 6650 by a 93 to 52 as they deflect criticism over bogus savings in their $1.6 billion union concession package and scramble to balance their controversial “balanced” budget.
“Citizens of this state deserve transparency in government,” Carter said. “I believe to bet a lot of residents will be shocked and disappointed as they learn more about what was passed here today.”
DWI convictions typically draw prison time after three offenses, depending on circumstances. There would be no mandatory time under the provision adopted in today’s bill. Lengths of potential mandatory sentences wouldn’t change, but the commissioner could sentence offenders to serve that time at home.
Offenders currently serving jail time could also be released if the corrections commissioner deems it appropriate. The provision was written into the 298-page budget implementation bill that covered changes affecting the judicial branch, public safety and criminal justice systems among others.
Many of the controversial proposals slipped into the bill were concepts presented in a different light during previous committee meetings or were concepts that died during those meetings.