The governor's temporary ban on parole for violent offenders is a smart move that gives the state breathing space to consider the troubled parole system over the next month.
The ban was ordered by Gov. M. Jodi Rell on Friday, the same day a Connecticut parolee was arrested for allegedly threatening New York police with a knife and stealing a car at knifepoint in Hartford.
Releasing James Biggs, also known as Jimmy Lee Biggs III, was a gamble the parole board should not have taken at this time of intense scrutiny into its workings. True, he had served 15 years of his 20-year sentence. But he was obviously a high risk: His criminal history included sexual assault, kidnapping and parole violations.
Nevertheless, he was paroled on Aug. 30 - a month after the parole board, prosecutors and others came under enormous criticism for paroling two criminals soon charged in the horrific slayings of a Cheshire mother and her two daughters.
The Department of Correction also erred in failing to outfit Mr. Biggs with a global tracking device - although the governor had ordered such devices for all paroled burglars. Mr. Biggs' 1992 conviction included, among many other things, two counts of first-degree burglary.
Clearly the parole system is overwhelmed if someone of Mr. Biggs' ilk can slip through. Halting parole for violent criminals is the responsible thing to do while the General Assembly and governor work out solutions.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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