Two reasons for the controversy surrounding inmate release from prison for parole are Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes. These released inmates led a shocking home invasion and brutal rampage in Cheshire, Connecticut, in July of 2007 that led to tighter restrictions on parole in some places and full-blown abolishment of parole in other jurisdictions.
The released inmates had lived together as inhabitants of a halfway house after leaving prison on parole. Komisarjevsky, 26, and Hayes, 44, were both career criminals.
The two released inmates broke into the home of Dr. William A. Petit, Jr., his wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, and their two daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, early on a Monday morning in July. Dr. Petit is the only survivor of the horrific ordeal.
Dr. Petit was the first family member to approach the released inmates inside the family home and was assaulted with a baseball bat during the confrontation. The parolees then tied him up and confined him to the home's basement.
A bit later, one of the two released inmates took Hawke-Petit to the bank, where she withdrew $15,000 while the inmate waited outside the bank. She was able to alert someone in the bank of the home invasion in progress and bank personnel notified the police of the situation in the family's home.
Once home with the money and reunited, the two released inmates killed Hawke-Petit. Her body was found on the first floor of the family's home.
The released inmates used bed linens to tie the two daughters to their beds. One of the daughters was raped and it's quite likely the other one was, too.
Before leaving the family home, the released inmates doused the bedrooms on the second floor with gasoline, where the daughters were still tied to their beds, and ignited it.
As the two released inmates were fleeing the fire in the family's car, police surrounded the vehicle and were able to thwart the get-away attempt, thanks to the alert from Hawke-Petit to the bank employee. The two parolees were arrested at gunpoint.
The blaze burned the body of the youngest daughter, Michaela, so badly it was very difficult to determine the cause of her death. Hayley's body was found, charred, at the top of the home's main staircase.
The two released inmates were charged with multiple crimes involving first degree assault and sexual assault, injury to a minor, robbery, and arson. Komisarjevsky was charged on 14 counts; Hayes on 11.
Since the rampage in Cheshire in 2007, advocates of continuing the possibility of parole are met with staunch opposition, citing the fate of the Hawke-Petit family as evidence of a failed system.