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Torres v. Commissioner of Correction

Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Tolland, Somers, Geographic Area 19

August 19, 2015

Carlos Torres, Inmate #275613
v.
Commissioner of Correction

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

Stanley T. Fuger, Jr., Judge.

The petitioner, Carlos Tortes, Inmate #275613, alleges in this petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus initially filed on January 8, 2014 and amended, most recently, on July 27, 2015, that a portion of his confinement under the custody of the Commissioner of Correction is illegal. Specifically, the petitioner in his two-count complaint alleges that the failure of the Respondent to credit him with Risk Reduction Earned Credits (" RREC") for the period of time he spent in pretrial confinement is a violation of his Constitutional Rights.

Findings of Fact

1. The petitioner was a defendant in a criminal case, captioned State v. Torres, Docket No. HHD CR08-0623550, proceeding in the Judicial District of Hartford. Although the underlying facts of the crimes with which the petitioner was charged are immaterial to the issues raised by this instant petition, the Court notes that he was charged with and found guilty of: Conspiracy to Commit Burglary in the 1st degree in violation of CGS § 53a-101 and 53a-48(a); and, Burglary in the 1st degree in violation of CGS § 53a-101.

2. The Petitioner entered into the custody of the Respondent on July 30, 2008 by result of his inability to post the requited bond set at his arraignment on the aforementioned charges.

3. The Petitioner remained in continuous pretrial confinement until he was ultimately sentenced on September 22, 2009 to a total effective sentence of fifteen years incarceration, suspended after the service of eight years to be followed by five years of probation.

4. The petitioner was credited with 419 days of pretrial confinement jail credit by the Respondent.

5. The Connecticut General Assembly passed a statute and the Governor signed it with an effective date of July 1, 2011 creating a scheme whereby a person, serving a sentence, became eligible to earn RREC credits that were to be used as credits to a sentence of incarceration so as to reduce the days spent in the custody of the Respondent.[1] The ability to earn RREC credits was made retroactive to those inmates serving a sentence of incarceration as of April 1, 2006.

6. The Petitioner became a sentenced prisoner on September 22, 2009 and, as of that date, became eligible to earn RREC credits at the rate of 5 days per month.

7. Additional facts will be discussed, as necessary, in subsequent portions of this decision.

Discussion

The petitioner has no argument with the jail credits or RREC credits that have been credited to him. There is no argument that the Respondent has incorrectly determined those days that have been credited to him. The focus of this habeas petition lies in the period between July 30, 2008 and September 22, 2009 during which the petitioner was held in the physical custody of the Respondent while he was awaiting resolution of the then pending charges. Petitioner claims that he should have earned an additional amount of RREC credits (approximately 70 days). Both parties are asserting the same statute as authority for their respective, mutually exclusive, positions. The statute at issue is CGS § 18-98e.[2]

Unfortunately for the position advanced by the Petitioner, namely that he was entitled to receive RREC credits for the period of July 30, 2008 to September 21, 2009 during which he was held in pretrial confinement, the statute that governs the award of RREC credits is clear and unambiguous. In order to earn RREC credits, an inmate must be a sentenced prisoner. It is equally clear and beyond dispute that the Petitioner was not a sentenced prisoner during this period. Consequently, it is clear that based upon unequivocal meaning of CGS § 18-98e, the Petitioner was ineligible to earn RREC credits during the period of July 30, 2008 and September 21, 2009.[3]

As regards the lengthy argument surrounding the equal protection argument advanced by Petitioner's counsel in her brief, this Court finds that since credits to be applied to judicial sentences of incarceration are purely the creation of statute, it is clear that the Legislature limited the circumstances under which RREC credits may be earned to a person who has already been sentenced . Although it was clearly within the power of the Legislature to have enacted a statute that would have extended the earning of RREC credits to un-sentenced prisoners being held in pretrial confinement, it is quite apparent that the Legislature chose not to do so. It would be the rankest form of judicial legislation for this Court to usurp the role of the duly elected members of the General ...


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