"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics” – a remark attributed by Mark Twain to Disraeli
Len Suzio lost his seat to incumbent State Senator Dante Bartolomeo in a hard fought contest in 2014 by 1% of the vote and won the seat back in 2016 by 2.8 % of the vote. His is a particularly difficult seat for Republicans; registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in the 13th District roughly by a two to one margin. Think of Sisyphus rolling his stone up a perilously steep incline.
Senator Suzio is now back in a State Senate evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, for which Republicans must thank the failing progressive policies of Governor Dannel Malloy. “Big victory today in Transportation Committee,” Mr. Suzio recently posted on Facebook. “My SB 76 which removes the authority of the DOT Commissioner to waste $300,000 of taxpayer money on the useless mileage tax study was passed on a 19-16 vote! The bill moves on to the Senate and maybe the Appropriations Committee soon. Keep up the pressure!!!”
The exclamation points are telling. After two steep increases in the income tax, the largest and the second largest in state history, Connecticut residents are wary of further revenue increases, and Mr. Suzio is persistent. “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence,” said Calvin Coolidge, no stranger to persistence himself. “Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
Owing to a murder a few streets from where he lived in Meriden, Suzio was very early awakened to the glaring faults in a new prison program inaugurated by Under Secretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Mike Lawlor who, along with Malloy, has taken credit for a drop in crime rates that has affected most states in the union. In speaking about his own prison reforms, the most prominent of which is an ill-conceived Risk Reduction Earned Credit Program, Mr. Lawlor, the former co-chair of the state’s Judiciary Committee, simply suggests a connection between his get-out-of-jail-early program and plunging crime rates, the inference being that the drop in crime has been caused by Mr. Lawlor’s brilliant program. In fact, the drop in crime rates may more plausibly be attributed to the prevalence of video cameras and advances in DNA testing, which makes successful prosecutions more certain.
Crime rates dropped precipitously beginning in 1990. By the end of the decade, “the homicide rate plunged 42 percent nationwide. Violent crime decreased by one-third. What turned into a precipitous decline started later in some areas and took longer in others. But it happened everywhere: in each region of the country, in cities large and small, in rural and urban areas alike. In the Northeast, which reaped the largest benefits, the homicide rate was halved. Murders plummeted by 75 percent in New York City alone as the city entered the new millennium,” according to a piece in The Atlantic.
The drop in crime rates has been attributed to other various causes: higher incarceration rates, increased hiring of police officers, a crime statistic tracking tool, Comstat, that has improved police response and, intriguingly, according to a study by economist Steven Levitt, “the city’s higher rate of abortion… In the original paper outlining the theory, Levitt and fellow economist John Donohoe argued the 1973 [Roe v Wade] ruling reduced the number of children born in unwanted circumstances, thereby reducing the number of children predisposed to violent crime later in life. Overall, they estimated this 20-year lag effect might account for as much as half of the crime decline in the ’90s.”
Some of the data showing a drop in crime may be attributed to decriminalization: If possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use is decriminalized, imprisonments, crimes rates and recidivism rates will be reduced. If a drug user cannot be arrested because his crime has been redefined so as to spare him prison time, his recidivism rate will be reduced to zero, even though he persists in committing his former now non-prosecutable crimes. The same principle applies in sanctuary cities in which police have been ordered to overlook federal detainers.
Suzio and other wide-awake Republicans noticed almost immediately that the credits distributed by Lawlor could hardly have been “earned” by those prisoners who received them retrospectively, and the blood spilled so close to Suzio’s own house by Frankie “The Razor” Resto, a beneficiary of the program, strongly suggested that “risk” had not been reduced for the shopkeeper Resto murdered soon after his release. Resto demanded cash from Ibraham Ghazal and, after it had been given to him, shot his victim in the chest, murdering him with an assault weapon he most certainly did not purchase at a gun show.
Suzio has persisted in demanding real data on the recidivism rates of prisoners who take advantage (pun intended) of Lawlor’s get-out-of-jail-early program. Having asked for the needle in the data haystack, Lawlor has supplied him with a barn full of data hay bales. He had not reckoned on Suzio’s persistence. Having sorted through the data dump, Suzio has now written a bill, SB 428, that prevents the assigning of credits to anyone convicted of “a violent crime or sexual offense,” a modest and necessary reform.
Here are some facts and figures on inmate data supplied to Suzio from DOC:
Source: Inmate files transmitted from the DOC to Senator Suzio. The files contain data pertaining to inmate discharges from September 1, 2011 through December 31, 2016 as well as inmates in DOC facilities as of December 31, 2016.
· 44,196 total discharges from September 1, 2011 through December 31, 2016
· 42,674 discharges received RREC’s (96.6% of all discharges)
· 36,616 unique inmates
· 35,679 unique inmates received RREC’s (97.4%)
· During the first year (September 1, 2011 through August 31, 2012) of Early Release there were 8,989 inmate discharges with RREC’s and of that group 7,412 (82.5%) have been readmitted to prison charged with a post-discharge crime as of December 31, 2016
· During the rst 2 years of Early Release 17,420 inmates were discharged with RREC’s and subsequently, through December 31, 2016 out of that those Early Release graduates there were 12,629 (72.5%) readmitted to prison charged with another crime
Types of crime committed by post-discharge early release inmates over 64 months:
· 87 murders charged to early release inmates who had been discharged with RREC’s (more than 1/month)
· 112 rapes (almost 2/month)
· 4,401 violent crimes (arson, assault, burglary, robbery, kidnapping, strangulation, criminal violation of protective order, etc.,) - (more than 2 per day)
· 454 crimes against children (almost 2 per week)
· 1,188 illegal drug dealing (more than 4 every week)
Judiciary Committee March 20th Public Hearing