Governor Rell: Governor Rell Signs Comprehensive Criminal Justice Reform Package Into Law

{Seal of the State of Connecticut}


M. Jodi Rell

January 25, 2008
Rich Harris


Governor Rell Signs Comprehensive

Criminal Justice Reform Package Into Law


            Governor M. Jodi Rell today signed into law a package of criminal justice reforms that establishes a new felony offense of “home invasion” and significantly strengthens the state’s system for dealing with paroles.


            The reforms were recommended by a task force created by Governor Rell after the July 2007 murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, Hayley Petit and Michaela Petit of Cheshire and the vicious assault on Dr. William Petit Jr. The Governor praised legislative leaders and the members of the Judiciary Committee for working in a bipartisan fashion to develop the bill, which passed 36-0 in the Senate and 126-12 in the House.


            “This is legislation that our citizens want and our state needs,” Governor Rell said. “The reforms will – first and foremost – make our state safer. There are new laws and tough penalties that will get criminals off our streets and behind bars. I want our citizens to have the confidence that comes from knowing that Connecticut’s laws on violent crime are, indeed, some of the toughest in the nation.”


{Gov. Rell Speaks at the Criminal Justice Bill Signing}

Gov. Rell Speaks at the Criminal Justice Bill Signing


            Under the new law, a person commits the crime of home invasion by entering or remaining unlawfully in an occupied dwelling and either carrying a weapon or committing or attempting to commit a felony against someone inside the dwelling.


            “The tough new home invasion law is the centerpiece – the linchpin – of our criminal justice reform efforts,” Governor Rell said. “People have a right to feel safe in their homes – their sanctuaries – and this new law should give them the peace of mind that these crimes will not be tolerated in Connecticut. Keeping our people and our communities safe is the most important job of government. This is a comprehensive bill that brings that key mission sharply into focus.”


            The legislative package also provides a wide range of reforms and improvements in the way the state deals with paroles. The law changes the makeup of the Board of Pardons and Paroles so that after July 1 the Board will have a chairman and five full-time, professional members augmented by 12 part-time members. All 18 members must be qualified by education, experience, or training in administering community corrections, parole or pardons; criminal justice; criminology; evaluation or supervision of offenders; or providing mental health services to offenders. The Board will also have a staff psychologist with expertise in risk assessment and recidivism of criminal offenders.


{Gov. Rell Signs the Criminal Justice Reform Package}

Gov. Rell Signs the Criminal Justice Reform Package


            Under the bill, the Board will be granted access to an offender’s records from juvenile court, which had previously been held confidential. This access will be limited to the purposes of risk and needs assessment for an incarcerated offender, a parole or pardon decision, or a decision on monitoring and treatment needs while an offender is on parole or some other form of supervised release.


            The law also bars the Board from acting on a case unless it has all of the relevant records before it, and requires the state to hasten the creation of an integrated, interagency computer system that will allow prosecutors, law enforcement agencies, parole and probation authorities and others to share information.


            Victims of crime also receive new rights under the bill, including the right to have family members speak before the Board of Pardons and Paroles during hearings. Previously, family members could speak only if the victim was deceased.


            “This bill gets right to the core of what our citizens want – the assurance that their homes are safe, their schools are safe and their children are safe,” Governor Rell said. “Providing that assurance is one of the most basic functions of our government. This bill helps us do our job better and I am pleased to sign it.”


Content Last Modified on 1/29/2008 2:28:23 PM

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