Gov. M. Jodi Rell's order to review the parole of every violent offender will affect hundreds of parolees, including 60 murderers tracked by the state, correction department records show.
As of two weeks ago, the state was tracking 3,762 convicts who were released early under a variety of programs overseen by the Department of Correction or the Board of Pardons and Paroles. That figure does not include convicts from other states or those on "special parole" - a period of monitoring imposed by a judge following a prison term.
State correction officials estimate that there are 600 to 800 parolees who were serving sentences for violent offenses. They were released early under a state law that makes most violent offenders eligible for parole after serving 85 percent of their sentence.
For violent crimes committed before July 1, 1996, inmates could be released after serving as little as half of their sentence.
But after last month's attack on the Petit family in Cheshire by two recent parolees, and last Friday's knifepoint carjacking by another parolee, Rell barred parole officials from granting early release to those convicted of violent offenses and has ordered a review of convicts currently on parole.
Nearly 40 percent of all parolees were serving sentences for drug offenses, which are not classified as violent, according to state records. But there are also hundreds of parolees completing sentences for killings, rapes, robberies and kidnapping. Murderers are no longer eligible for parole, but 60 inmates who committed murders before a 1981 change in the law are on parole.
They include 76-year-old Armando Valeriano, Connecticut's oldest parolee, who was serving a life sentence for felony murder. Also on the list is Woodrow Wilson Chapman, 62, who was sentenced to life in prison more than 40 years ago for the shotgun slaying of a woman he had argued with at a party when he was 19.
Four of the convicted murderers are in their 70s, and one in three is at least 60 years old. But the list of parolees also includes dozens of youthful offenders.
In addition, at least 184 convicted robbers, 215 burglars, and 265 larceny convicts are out on parole and other early release programs. There are also at least 11 kidnappers and eight arsonists.
At least 36 parolees were in prison for manslaughter, and 161 were convicted of assault. Twenty-seven committed sexual offenses, and 172 were imprisoned on weapons charges.
In recent years, the number of parole violators back in prison at any one time has hovered between 400 and 500, state records show. But that may rise considerably with Rell's crackdown.
"If we identify anyone in this review who has failed to follow the terms of their release - or if anyone currently on parole fails to do so in the future - we will revoke their parole and return them to prison to serve the balance of their sentence," Rell said last week.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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