Lawmaker Wants Answers on Prison Library Policy

What a suspect in the Cheshire home invasion and slayings read from a prison library before being released has become an issue in his trial. Now, one state senator is looking for information on state prison library policies.

What Steven Hayes read has not been released, but it is said to be “criminally malevolent in the extreme.” Defense attorneys have requested that the names of the books read be suppressed.

Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky are accused in the brutal slayings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Michaela, 11 and Hayley, 17.

State Senator John Kissel, a Republican from Enfield, said he made a phone call asking for the information and he was denied. Department officials said a court order prohibits them from discussing the case, Kissel said.

On Thursday, he sent a letter to Brian Murphy, acting commissioner of the state Connecticut Department of Corrections, asking for information about policies.

“While I am highly supportive of granting inmates access to literature, the nature and content of such literature must be monitored closely,” Kissel said. “I understand why the Department would be prohibited from discussing the case in particular, but their general library polices should be accessible.”

“In light of the material that may have been available to Steven Hayes prior to the chilling and horrific crimes he is charged with committing in Cheshire in 2007, I think it is pertinent that we address and review these policies as soon as possible so as to prevent any future prisoners from obtaining salacious or inherently violent reading material that could potentially continue a vicious cycle of criminal activity,” Kissel wrote in the letter.

“An inmate’s time in prison should be used productively to develop skills that will help them reintegrate into their communities,” Kissel said in a news release. “If the library policy allows violent and malevolent reading material to be accessible to inmates, either DOC needs to change the policy or we will need to address it as a legislative body.”

Hayes and Komisarjevsky have pleaded not guilty to capital felony murder and other crimes connected to the case.

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