Sen. Kane: ‘Earned’ credit for felons makes streets less safe [Waterbury Republican-American]

May 30, 2012

Article as it appeared in the Waterbury Republican-American on May, 30, 2012

Which of the following criminal convictions are eligible for reduced prison sentences in Connecticut?

Rape, kidnapping, arson, first-degree manslaughter, assault of a pregnant woman, first-degree assault, second-degree strangulation, first-degree threatening, having sex with someone under 13, assault of a blind or disabled person, or animal cruelty?

If you answered “all of the above,” you are right.

Under a new Connecticut law, perpetrators of the above crimes are eligible for the Earned Risk Reduction Credit, an early-release program that allows prisoners to earn five days a month credit off their sentence for good behavior.

The legislation, passed by the Democratic-controlled legislature a year ago, is contributing to one of the largest releases of inmates in decades.

Inmates who enroll in violence-reduction, drug-abuse and sex-offender programs are reviewed, and if they get a passing grade, they become eligible to get time off their sentence. How much time?

Sexual predator Robert Pentland III, 40, was sentenced to 18½ years in prison this month. The senior assistant state’s attorney called Pentland “a calculating, manipulative pedophile who has gone about seeking out children for many, many years.” His courageous victim, now a teenager, had been repeatedly molested by Pentland. She read a poem at the sentencing hearing that tells Pentland he can no longer “crowd” her mind “because I am a woman of strength while a coward like him is now barely considered a man.” Pentland could see more than three years taken off his sentence thanks to the Earned Risk Reduction Credit.

Jared Rennie, who killed Norwich resident Lauren Withycombe’s brother, won early release under the program. Withycombe calls Rennie’s release “unconscionable” and “a real slap in the face.”

On the anniversary of one of the worst public policies being put on our state’s books, it is appropriate for voters to ask their state legislators a few questions about this policy: Did you stand for coddling violent criminals, or did you stand with the victims whose lives are forever impacted by these heinous crimes? Did you vote for the early release of violent criminals in order to save money? And finally, do you think Connecticut’s streets are safer as a result?

Democratic legislators and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy made their choice last year. Let’s see them defend that choice from now until November.