Attorney General's Opinion
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal
September 17, 1999
Honorable John J. Armstrong
Commissioner of Correction
24 Wolcott Hill Road
Wethersfield, CT 06109-1152
RE: Velez v Commissioner of Correction
Dear Commissioner Armstrong:
You recently requested our advice regarding the Connecticut Supreme Court's decision in Velez v Commissioner of Correction, 250 Conn. 536 (1999). Specifically, you have asked us for clarification with respect to this decision's impact on DOC's procedure for determining when inmates become eligible for release to an approved community correction program pursuant to §18-100c. You have advised us that although inmates convicted of a crime committed on or after October 1, 1994 do not receive good time credits to reduce the length of their sentences, DOC does credit such inmates with good time credits that would have been earned for the purpose of calculating eligibility for such community correction programs.
The Court in the Velez case held that "...§18-100d renders the good time statutes inapplicable to persons sentenced to a term of imprisonment for crimes committed on or after October 1, 1994." Velez, 250 Conn. at 552. The Court further held that "[c]onsequently, in calculating the date of their eligibility for community placement pursuant to §18-100c, the commissioner simply would not subtract any good time from one half of their court-imposed sentences, and they would have to serve one half of their sentences before becoming eligible for the transition to community placement". Id at 549. Thus the Court found that good time credits are no longer available to either decrease the length of the sentence of persons imprisoned for crimes committed on or after October 1, 1994 or to accelerate such persons' eligibility for community placement.
In light of the Connecticut Supreme Court's clear and unambiguous holding in Velez, our opinion is that you may not consider good time credits that could have been earned when calculating an inmate's eligibility for release to a community correction program pursuant to §18-100c. Rather, inmates must serve not less than one-half of the actual sentence imposed by the court before becoming eligible for such programs. It is our further opinion that if any inmates are currently participating in such programs and do not meet the eligibility requirements (i.e., have not served at least one-half of the definite sentence imposed by the Court without regard to good-time credits that may have been earned), such inmates must be returned to correctional facilities until such time as they meet these eligibility requirements.
Very truly yours,