(WTNH) – Arthur Hapgood, accused of fatally stabbing a one-year-old child while arguing with his wife earlier this week in Bristol, was released from prison after serving more than 85 percent of a 71-month prison sentence, under the terms of the state’s early release program.
“Recently-enacted law ensures that he and all violent offenders serve at least 85 percent of his sentence. Mr. Hapgood served nearly 90 percent of his sentence, and even had he served 100 percent, he would have been released by now,” according to the state Department of Correction. “Under the law that was in place five years ago, he almost certainly would have been released much earlier, possibly serving as little as 60 percent of his sentence. That is no longer possible.”
“Fewer violent offenders are getting out of prison today than at any point in the last 10 years,” the DOC said in an email Thursday. People convicted of violent crimes are not eligible for early release.
“For example, an analysis of releases from 2008, the year following the Cheshire Tragedy [the 2007 murder of Dr. William Petit’s family], shows most violent offenders convicted of Robbery 1st Degree, a Class B Violent Felony, were released well before the 85 percent mark,” it added. “Some offenders served as little as 59 percent of their original sentence. This was also the case with Assault 1st Degree, another Class B violent felony. One such offender was released in 2008 after having served only 51 percent of the original sentence imposed by the court.”
“In general, release decisions are much more risk-focused than before,” according to the DOC. “Before 2011, release decisions were typically made by wardens based on limited information or by the parole board based on incomplete files using outdated risk assessment.”
The process has since become more selective and fewer inmates are being released early. The total DOC population has dropped by 5 percent, or 1,250, since Jan. 1, 2011, the department reported.
“The most dramatic evidence of the drop in number of prison release is that the number of inmates released on discretionary parole has dropped by more than 40 percent compared to 2009,” the DOC said. “The number of ‘end of sentence’ releases has dropped by 17 percent; the number of ‘transitional supervision’ releases (prisoners sentenced to less than two years to serve and therefore not parole eligible) has dropped almost 34 percent since 2009.”