HARTFORD - A new financial analysis of more than a dozen proposed changes to Connecticut's criminal justice system indicates that an overhaul could cost tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars.
Topping the list is a proposal to build two correctional facilities, including a 1,000-bed medium-security prison and a 1,200-bed medical and mental health facility. The nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis estimated it would cost the state about $400 million over 20 years to build them.
Another idea, to impose a mandatory life prison sentence for anyone convicted of a third dangerous felony, would cost the state's court system an estimated $5 million more a year and the prison system about $4.3 million more a year.
Both concepts, among others, will be discussed Tuesday at a 1 p.m. public hearing at the Legislative Office Building. The General Assembly's Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on packages of proposed changes submitted by fellow lawmakers, the judicial branch, the chief state's attorney's office, and the Office of Victim Advocate.
Meanwhile, Governor M. Jodi Rell's Sentencing and Parole Review Task Force will hold its public hearing tomorrow at 9 a.m. to discuss possible changes to how people are charged with crimes, sentenced, and paroled.
Both groups ultimately hope to work together to propose a combined overhaul package to lawmakers. The proposed changes are in response to a home invasion in Cheshire last summer in which a mother and her two daughters were killed. Two parolees have been charged in their slayings.
Rich Harris, a spokesman for Rell, said it's difficult to say how much the state will ultimately spend in the aftermath of the Cheshire slayings.
"The ultimate costs of any changes in the criminal justice system will have to be calculated once the governor and the Legislature decide the best way to proceed with ensuring that violent offenders are prevented from causing further harm to people and the system works the way it should for both offenders and the residents of Connecticut," Harris said.