Members of the state Sentencing Commission warned of a possible “onslaught of litigation” as a result of the legislature’s decision not to pass a bill allowing a parole hearing for juvenile offenders.
The bill was one of the nonpartisan commission’s recommendations and would have given people in Connecticut now serving long sentences for crimes they committed when they were young teenagers a chance at a hearing before the parole board.
The commission recommended the legislation in part based on three U.S. Supreme Court decisions which could be used by Connecticut inmates, who committed their crimes as juveniles, to bring their cases back to court for re-examination.
In their first meeting since the end of the legislative session, members of the commission said they were concerned that the state would be facing litigation from the close to 200 inmates whose sentences the bill could have impacted. Chief Public Defender Susan Storey said many of them would require public defenders.
Public Defender Thomas Ullmann said he had been advising inmates to hold off on filing unlawful imprisonment petitions because he was confident the bill would pass.
“I’m concerned that people now realizing that this bill did not go through, that we’ll find ourselves inundated with habeas corpus petitions from inmates who are in this status,” he said.
Sentencing Commission Chairman Judge Joseph Shortall agreed that it was a concern.
“I do foresee . . . an onslaught of litigation over these issues,” he said.