Attorney General: John Meeker, Chairman, Board of Parole, 1996-015 Formal Opinion, Attorney General of Connecticut

Attorney General's Opinion

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal

October 21, 1996

John Meeker, Chairman
Board of Parole
90 Brainard Road
Hartford, CT 06114

Dear Chairman Meeker:

This letter responds to your request for advice concerning whether parole officers have authority to enforce conditions of parole with respect to parolees, Indians and nonIndians, on federal reservations. Endnote 1 We believe that parole officers have the same authority to enforce conditions of parole with respect to Indian and nonIndian parolees on federal Indian reservations as they do elsewhere in Connecticut.

Connecticut has two federally recognized Indian tribes, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe. Both Tribes have federal reservations in Connecticut, in Ledyard and Montville respectfully. Connecticut has criminal jurisdiction on both reservations. 25 U.S.C. 1755; 25 U.S.C. 1775d. Because Connecticut's parole scheme is part of its criminal jurisdiction, the State has jurisdiction over all parolees, regardless of their membership in a federally recognized tribe or situs within a federal Indian reservation.

As to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, in 1983, the Tribe received federal recognition by an act of the United States Congress entitled the Connecticut Indian Land Claims Settlement Act (the "Settlement Act"). 25 U.S.C. 1751 et. seq. Under the Settlement Act, Congress granted Connecticut "jurisdiction" over the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe's reservation "to the maximum extent provided" in 25 U.S.C. 1321. 25 U.S.C. 1755. Pursuant to 25 U.S.C. 1321, Connecticut has jurisdiction over "criminal offenses committed by or against Indians . . ." on the Reservation to the "same extent that such State has jurisdiction over any such offense committed elsewhere . . ." in Connecticut. The Connecticut Supreme Court has recently confirmed that these federal statutes granted to Connecticut criminal jurisdiction on the Reservation over Indians and nonIndians. State v. Spears, 234 Conn. 78 (1995), cert. denied, 116 S.Ct. 565 (1995).

With respect to the Mohegan Tribe, Congress also granted to Connecticut criminal jurisdiction over offenses committed by or against Indians on the Tribe's reservation. Section 1775d of the Mohegan Nation Land Claims Settlement Act provides:

The State shall have such jurisdiction to the same extent as the State has jurisdiction over such offenses committed elsewhere within the State. The criminal laws of the State shall have the same force within such reservation and Indian country as such laws have elsewhere within the State.

25 U.S.C. 1775d.

Your particular question concerns the enforcement authority of parole officers as to Indians and nonIndians on Connecticut's two federal reservations. Connecticut's statutory scheme governing parole is found in Title 54 of the General Statutes, which governs criminal procedure. These statutes permit the Board of Parole in its discretion to grant parole under certain circumstances and under specified conditions. See Conn. Gen. Stat. 54-125, 54-125a. The Board is charged with and authorized to create and enforce rules and regulations concerning parole. Conn. Gen. Stat. 54-126. During the period of parole, the parolee remains "in the legal custody and control of the board until the expiration of the term or terms for which he was sentenced." Conn. Gen. Stat. 54-125, 54-125a(a).

The congressional grants of criminal jurisdiction discussed above encompass all aspects of the State's jurisdiction over criminal offenses from arrest, through and including the prosecution, sentencing, incarceration and parole, until the defendant's final discharge from state custody.

In summary, Connecticut has criminal jurisdiction on the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan reservations, with respect to all persons, Indians and nonIndians. The State's parole scheme falls squarely within the State's criminal jurisdiction. Accordingly, parole officers have jurisdiction to enforce all conditions of parole with respect to all parolees in Connecticut, including parolees located on the State's two federal reservations.

We trust this opinion answers you concerns.

Very truly yours,

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL
ATTORNEY GENERAL

Susan Quinn CobbMbr> Assistant Attorney General

Stephen J. O'Neill
Assistant Attorney General


Endnote 1

You also asked whether parole officers are mandatory reporters of suspected child abuse within the meaning of Conn. Gen. Stat. 17a-101. You have advised us that the Board has adopted a policy of requiring its parole officers to report suspected instances of child abuse. In view of the adoption of this policy, which we regard as clearly within the Board's authority to promote "the welfare of society" (see Conn. Gen. Stat. 54-125), it is not now necessary to respond to this question. If the Board should consider changing this policy in the future, you should then seek our advice on this question.


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