Malloy's home confinement bill clears Conn. panel

March 30, 2011

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HARTFORD, Conn.—Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's proposal to allow Connecticut's Department of Correction commissioner to place certain low-risk offenders under home confinement cleared a legislative hurdle on Wednesday.

Advocates of the bill, which passed the General Assembly's Judiciary Committee on a 29-12 vote, said it could reduce state prison costs as well as the number of reoffenders.

Under the proposed legislation, the DOC commissioner could release an inmate to his or her home if that person was sentenced to driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, drug paraphernalia crimes, or possession of less than four ounces of marijuana. Commissioner Leo Arnone has estimated there are now about 20 low-risk drug offenders and 200 low-risk DUI offenders that could be eligible for a home confinement program.

Some Republican lawmakers voiced concern during Wednesday's meeting about allowing repeat drunken drivers to serve their time at home, arguing it sends the wrong message.

A person with two drunken driving convictions currently faces up to two years in prison, with a mandatory minimum of 120 consecutive days, plus probation and community service. Someone with three or more DUI convictions can face up to three years in prison with a mandatory minimum of one year, along with probation and community service.

"I don't want to see those weakened or lessened in any way," said Rep. David Labriola, R-Naugatuck. "It allows a situation where a person wouldn't have to serve a mandatory four months or one year when there is a second or third conviction."

Also under the bill, people convicted for the first time of drunken driving could have their licenses suspended for three months instead of 12 months. For the remaining nine months, they would be required to use an ignition interlock device that would detect alcohol use and prevent the person from driving.

Malloy's proposal also requires the commissioner to create an incentive plan to allow inmates to earn credits to reduce their sentences. The details are still being worked out and will be added to the bill later.