New Early Release Prison Program is Dangerous and Should be Halted

Why is the state letting violent criminals out of prison early?

The Department of Correction has released 7,589 prisoners – many of whom were convicted of violent felonies – under the Risk Reduction Earned Credit (RREC) program since September 1, 2011.

A beneficiary of the early release program, Frankie Resto received 199 days of credit through this program and got out of prison early. But after being out of prison for only two months, Resto was arrested by police for allegedly murdering a 70-year-old convenience store clerk in Meriden.

Resto should still be behind bars. Instead he earned credits and was released. Now a family has lost their father and grandfather in a horrific way.

State Victim Advocate Michelle Cruz, a respected non partisan official, has raised serious concerns regarding the scope of the program and its impact on victims’ rights and public safety.

For example, Cruz estimates the state has only 1,800 beds at half way houses and 3,500 behavioral slots available to those who receive early release. Simple math shows if 7,589 prisoners have been released then there are 2,289 without a supervised place to go.

Where are they living? Who is supervising their release? Why aren’t they given a psychiatric evaluation before they are released? In addition, how is the ‘risk reduction credit’ program being carried out and exactly how are the credits are calculated?

I have had reservations about this program since it was first brought up for debate. I felt so strongly that I voted against this policy on the senate floor and stated at the time that this policy isn’t keeping our families safe. It is rewarding violent and reckless people who should be serving the time they were sentenced too.

The State’s Victim Advocate (OVA), Michelle Cruz says many of the offenders are being granted RREC for simply signing up for a program without completing the program. Cruz also found inmates have been denied parole for failure to complete required programs while at the same time earning risk reduction credits for enrolling in programs they do not need.

For example a sex offender who refuses to sign up for sex offender treatment as required, is instead signing up for programs such as study of the Philippines and receiving credit for early release.

The Department of Correction (DOC) Commissioner was given a lot of leeway to develop and administer this new program when the majority party voted to pass this law. The statute gives the DOC Commissioner authority to grant inmates credits worth up to five days off their sentence for each month they participate in re-entry programs. And the credits are retroactive to 2006!

Cruz has asked DOC to calculate the recidivism rates of the 7,589 inmates released through the program. Of those, 773 have already been returned to custody for either committing a new offense or violation of probation or parole.

In reviewing these 773 the Office of Victim Advocate has learned the new arrests include:

  • Violation of a protective order (felony)
  • Carrying a dangerous weapon (felony)
  • Attempt to commit arson 3rd Degree(felony)
  • Burglary 3rd (felony)
  • Attempt to commit arson 1st degree (felony)

I agree with leaders of the Judiciary Committee who are asking the DOC to suspend the program and investigate how it is being implemented. At the very least the following should be required before any inmate is released early:

  • a psychiatric exit evaluation
  • a risk assessment of danger to their victims

We would be wise to ask the DOC Commissioner to halt awarding these credits and to investigate this programs effectiveness and affect on public safety. Our families deserve no less.

Senator Guglielmo is a ranking member of the Public Safety Committee.

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Mark September 01, 2012 at 08:37 PM
@ Meowkats4 What is the death penalty to you? Is it vengeance against the criminal? Is it supposed to deter others of committing capital crimes? If you were convicted of such an offense which would you prefer? Live your ENTIRE life imprisoned behind concrete and wire in a cell 18 hours per day with 1 - 3 other men/women being dictated how to live and what to do always being on guard against rape or a shiv to the kidneys and never again having your freedom, never being able to hug a family member or have a picnic or just take a stroll. OR would you choose the easier path for one with no hope by choosing the quick and painless option after your 30 years of appeals costing millions has run out and you tire of living in your one man cell with your own TV and Hobby equipment? If it is sheer punishment and vengeance you decide,FAR better to incarcerate for life than to offer the easy path.
meowkats4 September 01, 2012 at 09:10 PM
@Mark, you know and I know Connecticut's Death Penalty, was hardly even used, not like Florida or Texas, lawyers used it here as a leverage for some of the horrific crimes we have had. Hayes and Komisarjevsky should be put to death!!!
MisterSpuddy September 02, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Agree with you 100%, Mark. Capital punishment should be abolished everywhere. It's NOT a deterrent, to begin with, and life in prison without parole is way harsher.
Elle Fagan September 04, 2012 at 03:49 AM
I side with Senator Guglielmo. And I appeal to the public and our good government to open the minds to new thinking re: penal system in general. Especially financially. Our prisons could be made self-sufficient if prisoners were taught and expected to work while there, and pay their costs...and not just licenseplate/makework jobs, but ones that teach them skills and give them something else to do with their lives when they leave prison. It is unfair to charge the taxpayer the expenses incurred by evildoers/evildoing. PART OF JUSTICE IS RESTITUTION, since the dawn of man, but we've been skipping it and celebrating our blindness and omission on the topic. If criminals and terrorists were required to the pay the bills THEY incurred - damages in the instance of the crime, costs of law enforcement and legal research to bring a case to court that will win, jail and prison expenses - if these costs were fairly charged to the perpetrators, our state and national debt would instantly fall back into the healthy range. It requires only some "tweaking" in the way we do things to make this work. In the meantime we deserve our swollen debt, because we made it that way, getting casual about our goodness and righteousness. Instead of charging the perps, we are PAYING them and they are mostly struggling to keep a straight face thru it. Early release is great idea, but the criteria they are using for it is wrong....with fatal results.
Mark October 12, 2012 at 03:02 AM
@ Elle Fagan A wonderfully thought out statement. I completely agree that a reform is necessary and a paid for (Mostly) by actual prisoners in a perfect world would be great. Unfortunately it is prone to corruption and graft. If the state is making money by incarcerating folks and private companies are making profit by supplying the prison system that then supply Lobbiests to Hartford and Washington and mega bucks campaign donations the few beneficiaries will be the Politicians and the private companies. Notice Hizzoner did not deign to follow up on his Blog Post..Actual caring is rare in Politics just one more example of the gadfly type nature.


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