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CT Republicans call for suspension of commutation of prison sentences

John Aberg of Lisbon, Conn. speaks at a press conference with Republican lawmakers at the state capitol calling for more oversight of the state Board of Pardon and Paroles. Aberg said he was worried that the person who murdered his 3-year-old grandson would be able to apply for commutation before serving his 40-year sentence.
Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public
John Aberg of Lisbon, Conn., speaks at a news conference with Republican lawmakers at the state Capitol calling for more oversight of the state Board of Pardons and Paroles. Aberg said he was worried that the person who murdered his 3-year-old grandson would be able to apply for commutation before serving his 40-year sentence.

Republican legislators and the families of violent crime victims on Tuesday pleaded with Gov. Ned Lamont to suspend commutations.

At a news conference, John Aberg said his grandson, Andrew Slyter, was 3 years old when he was sexually assaulted and killed more than 15 years ago. Craig Sadosky pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

"My family left the courthouse that day with the understanding that the monster who murdered Andy would be kept apart from all of us and kept apart from all of you and your children and grandchildren,” Aberg said. “How can just three people in the Board of Pardons and Paroles overturn the deliberations of the court? If the board wants to consider shortening the sentences of nonviolent criminals or individuals who committed a crime when they were younger, fine. But not murder committed by a mature adult."

Under current rules, Sadosky could be eligible to apply for commutation.

Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, called the reduction in prison sentences outrageous.

“We get the Board of Pardons and Paroles, saying ‘we're gonna do this,’” Kissel said. “And also if they denied it under their own rules, they get to reapply in three years, and I’m calling on Gov. Lamont: Stop this right now.”

In 2022, the Board of Pardons and Paroles granted 71 commutations; in 2021, just one commutation was issued. Between 2016 and 2021, the board granted six commutations. Convictions ranged from murder, to arson and burglary.

Commutations had been paused during much of the pandemic. In a statement Tuesday, Lamont noted that the commutation process “accelerated rapidly” after returning in mid-2021.

“Given the substantial progress the board already has made in hearing commutation cases, it's time to step back and see how the policy is working,” Lamont said. “The seriousness of the topic demands a careful approach involving the General Assembly as well as stakeholders, especially victims.”

Previously, critics argued the state needed tohavemore sentences commuted, especially during the height of the pandemic.

State Rep. Geraldo Reyes, D-Waterbury, said in a statement he does not believe that individuals should have their prison time reduced if they commit murder or "another egregious crime."

But he noted that "every other incarcerated person should have the opportunity to participate in the early release and pardoning process. We should not eliminate those pathways to get out of prison."

People who are incarcerated in Connecticut are eligible to apply for commutation if they are serving a sentence longer than 10 years and have already served at least that long. They must also not be within two years of parole eligibility. It must also be at least three years since being denied any previous commutation application.

Updated: March 8, 2023 at 3:51 PM EST
Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.

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