$4 Million: Price of Prisoners' Early Freedom

Two and half years ago, the state pulled back on an early release program for inmates after three women were brutally murdered during a home invasion in Cheshire.

The two men charged with the murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, Hayley and Michaela, were parolees. 

But it looks like 15 inmates will be freed from prison and sent home a little early, and 800 prisons could be released early across the state.  

Gov. M. Jodi Rell and state lawmakers have reinstated the early release program for inmates all to reduce the prison population and save about $4 million a year.

On Nov. 9, prison officials started to released inmates on supervised re-entry furloughs.

The program sends home some prisoners 45 days before their sentences are scheduled to end.

When Rell demanded that the state Department of Correction and the Board of Pardons and Paroles take steps to ensure that violent offenders who pose a risk to society are not paroled, she said the state would  not take unnecessary risks with public safety.

“The security of Connecticut residents, their homes and their families is my top priority. We will ensure that violent offenders who pose a risk to society stay behind bars while continuing to help non-violent offenders make the most effective transition possible back to society.”

About 800 of the state's 18,300 prisoners are eligible for re-entry furloughs and 15 have been approved for release so far, officials said.

The program could cut back on budget constraints but  local police officials are not thrilled about saving budget dollars this way. They are concerned about a potential threat to public safety.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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