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Attorney General Opinion Rules Parole Board Cannot Commute Parole-Ineligible Sentences To Parole Eligible
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal today issued a formal legal opinion finding that the state Board of Pardons and Paroles cannot commute sentences of felons convicted of murder, rape and similar offenses to make them eligible for parole.
(Media-Newswire.com) – Attorney General Richard Blumenthal today issued a formal legal opinion finding that the state Board of Pardons and Paroles cannot commute sentences of felons convicted of murder, rape and similar offenses to make them eligible for parole.
Board of Pardons and Paroles Chairman Robert Farr asked Blumenthal in April for the opinion after 13 convicted murderers petitioned to have their sentences commuted to make them parole eligible. In his letter seeking the opinion, Farr said that “it would be beneficial to commute certain applicant’s sentences to parole eligible” so they are subject to state supervision upon release.
“No parole means no parole,” Blumenthal said. “The board’s powers to commute cannot be misapplied to enable parole for offenses prohibited from parole. They cannot convert any portion of a parole-ineligible sentence to make it parole eligible. Granting parole to felons convicted of serious offenses such as murder or rape would mock the letter and spirit of the law.”
Under state law, Blumenthal said anyone convicted of murder, capital murder, felony murder, first degree rape and aggravated sexual assault is ineligible for parole. Blumenthal said that the state law bars the Board of Pardons and Paroles from commuting the parole-ineligible portion of a convict’s sentence so that it can consider him or her for parole.
“The General Assembly has determined that the public’s interest and safety are best served by making anyone convicted of murder or other crimes specified in 54-125a( b )( 1 ) ineligible for parole,” Blumenthal wrote in the opinion. “That statute explicitly and particularly denies parole to those convicted of offenses enumerated in the statute and is a specific limitation on the general pardon and commutation powers granted to the Board of Pardons and Paroles.
“Accordingly, we conclude that a pardons panel of the Board of Pardons and Paroles does not have the legal authority to commute a sentence which is categorized as ineligible for parole so as to enable a person convicted of such offense to be eligible for parole.”
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June 07, 2013
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