Persistent offender bill awaits Rell's signature

The House of Representatives passed a keycriminal justice bill tonight that would toughen penalties forviolent, repeat offenders.

The bill was approved 128-12. It passed in the Senate earlierthis week and now heads to Governor Rell for her signature. Thereforms come in the wake of two high-profile, deadly home invasionsin Cheshire in New Britain.

The bill sets minimum penalties for persistent dangerous felonyoffenders, and, in some cases, increases maximum penalties. Butthere are concerns among lawmakers who either think the bill is tootough or not tough enough.

It also includes $10 million in new funding to hire moreprosecutors, public defenders, correctional and parole officers. Itincludes more money for GPS tracking of parolees, alternativehousing for parolees, truancy prevention, drug programs, and morestaff at the State Police Major Crime Squad.

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