Jan 5, 2014
05:51 AMConnecticut Today
Connecticut DUI Program Cuts Jail Time, Deals With Addictions
Arnold Gold/New Haven Register
From left, Michelene Longo, correctional substance abuse counselor; Parole Officer Trudy Beaulieu; secretary Suzanne Kiniry; Parole Officer Dawn Rizzuto; Parole Officer Alan Piascik; Parole Manager Jennifer Bennett; Parole Officer Dave Skarzynski; Parole Officer Lushonda Howard; and Parole Officer Art Reardon of the Department of Correction’s DUI Unit are photographed at the Maloney Center for Training and Staff Development in Cheshire.
All it took was a quick ride down the dirt road near his house.
Kenneth, 48, of New Hartford, had been having a few drinks while he was working on his children’s quad before he decided to take the quad for a ride.
Somewhere along that road was a cop.
The officer pulled over Kenneth and arrested him on drunken driving charges.
Kenneth said if he had reached the 10-year mark and had not received any other offenses, his previous two DUI charges would not have been counted against him when he received that third offense.
“Unfortunately, I had gotten two prior to the 10-year mark,” Kenneth said. “I was six months away from it, not even. They took everything and ran it all together.”
Kenneth was sentenced to 16 months in prison.
Just before he was sent away, Kenneth said he found out about a program that would be made available in August 2011. (Kenneth asked not to have his last name published to keep the focus off him and on the program.)
Run by the state Department of Correction, the DUI Home Confinement Program gives offenders who are in jail for DUI the option of participating in a five-week addiction-services class. The DUI unit then pairs them with a sponsor and parole officer, who help them work on their addictions once they are back home.
A positive for offenders who elect to participate is that they are released from prison earlier than their sentence would dictate.
“I see it as a better way to have us pay taxes rather than use tax deficit. It is ridiculous how much is spent on incarcerated people,” Kenneth said.
Kenneth said he was lucky enough to be one of the 20 selected to participate in the first round of the program in February 2012. After spending eight months in jail and completing the five-week education course, Kenneth was released to complete the remaining portion of the program at home with his sponsors.