The following is a media release from Senator Suzio
Hartford, CT – Senator Len Suzio along with the State Victim Advocate and the group Survivors of Homicide call for the suspension of the state’s Early Release Program. The group held a press conference in Hartford on Wednesday revealing the program is flawed and prisoners are being released before they are ready.
“This ill-conceived program has already proven dangerous to the public. There is no reason families should have to live in fear,” said Sen. Suzio. “A constituent from my hometown of Meriden was brutally murdered - allegedly by a man who got out of prison 6 months before he was supposed to because of this program. How many lives have to be lost before this administration acts? All too often criminals are let out before their victims even get out of the hospital.”
According to the Department of Correction 7,589 prisoners – many of whom were convicted of violent felonies – have been released under the Risk Reduction Earned Credit program since September 1, 2011. At the same time, State Victim Advocate Michelle 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.
Sen. Suzio wants to know, “Where are all the released criminals living? Who is supervising their release? Why aren’t they given a psychiatric evaluation before they are released?”
In addition, OVA and Sen. Suzio question how the administration of the ‘risk reduction credit’ program is being carried out and exactly how the credits are calculated?
Cruz said, “Many of the offenders are being granted RREC for simply signing up for a program rather than 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. Once they sign up they are receiving credits to get out early,” said Cruz.
Additionally the OVA has asked the Department of Correction 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 OVA 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)
Another beneficiary of the early release program, Frankie Resto, stands accused of murdering Ibrahim Ghazal, a 70 year old convenience store clerk, while robbing an EZ Mart in Meriden, CT.
Sen. Suzio said, “The Department of Corrections is altering history and facts in its attempt to cover up the failure of this program and I won’t stand for it. The Ghazal family in Meriden lost their father allegedly at the hands of a convicted criminal - who was released early from prison through this program. That prisoner should still be behind bars, instead he is facing a murder charge and a family had to bury their father.”
Sen. Suzio and Michelle Cruz are asking the DOC to suspend the program and investigate how it is being implemented. At the very least they ask the following be required before any inmate is released early:
- a psychiatric exit evaluation
- a risk assessment of danger to their victims
Sen. Suzio along with the Ghazal family of Meriden launched a petition drive this week to put pressure on the administration to suspend the program and investigate its effectiveness and affect on public safety.
To sign the petition please visit www.senatorsuzio.com