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CT's "Gang Problem"

CT's "Gang Problem"

The RICO concept of guilt by association has recently moved from the statute books and has now made its appearance into prison management. Within the past year or so Connecticuts Department of Corrections adopted a gang management policy. The policy designates gangs and gang members, and implements a particularly draconian housing and management policy for prisoners so designated. However the policy has recently come under attack in state court as being illegal with respect to one aspect, and that is the exemption of prisoners designated as gang members from being eligible to earn statutory good time.

Previously all anprisoner in Connecticut had to do was not receive any disciplinary tickets and good time would automatically accrue at the rate of ten days per month per statute. The only way an prisoner could lose good time was for discreet acts of misconduct, and then a fixed number of days would be deducted from the good time already earned. However under the gang policy, gang members are not allowed to earn good time for an indefinite length of time.

The DOC claims that being a member of a gang is akin to a "continuing ongoing violation" of the rules, and therefore no good time should be credited. However, gang membership is not easy to prove nor disprove, nor is its inception or cessation accurate to pin down, even for the so-called gang member who unfortunately will remain in statutory limbo until the DOC decides to release him/her. At a minimum an prisoner designated as a gang member in Connecticut should expect to lose good time for a year or more under the current policy.

Prisoners in Connecticut have few rights afforded above the minimal federal rights. However, one thing they do have a right to is good time per statute. Furthermore, the statute has been interpreted by the Connecticut Supreme Court as forbidding the DOC from taking away good time that has not actually been earned. The legal challenge made by an prisoner in Connecticut is that by exempting him from being able to earn good time for an indefinite amount of time the DOC has in effect taken away good time that he has not yet earned. If the court rules in the prisoners favor it will affect several hundred prisoners in Connecticut. Well keep you posted.

William Dwyer, Attomey.
Cornwall Bridge, CT

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