Initiatives seek repeal of early prison release [Waterbury Republican-American]

February 28, 2013

Article as it appeared in the Waterbury Republican-American


HARTFORD — State Sen. Joe Markley, R-16th District, has reached deep into the legislature’s rule book to force another showdown on a controversial early release program.

Markley employed an obscure rule to have legislation drafted to repeal the program that provides credits that qualifying inmates can use to get out of prison early.

He said he took this unusual step because the Democratic-led Judiciary Committee had ignored legislation targeting the program that he and Rep. Alfred C. Adnolfi, R-Cheshire, co-sponsored.

The committee did vote on Feb. 13 to draft legislation concerning eligibility requirements for the credits. It is unclear what that measure will seek to do.

In a related development Wednesday, former Sen. Len Suzio, R-Meriden, announced the organization of a statewide petition drive to shut down the program. He said the petition will be posted online today at

The Risk Reduction Earned Credit program allows inmates to shave as much as five days a month off their sentences, provided they follow institutional rules and participate in rehabilitation programs.

This is an initiative of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. It was enacted in 2011.

Markley said repeal is within the realm of possibility, but he acknowledged the long odds against it. Still, he believes public opinion is on the side of repeal.

“I never rule out anything that strikes a chord with the public,” Markley said.

Republicans in the legislature have targeted the program since an inmate who had been released early under the program was accused of murdering a Meriden store owner in a robbery last June. “It is fatally flawed,” said Suzio, who lost his-election bid last year.

Republican lawmakers introduced three other bills this session to eliminate the program. Sens. Paul Doyle, D-Wethersfield, and John A. Kissel, R-Enfield, each introduced bills to exclude violent offenders.

The Judiciary Committee did not vote to have Markley and Adinolfi’s original bill drafted and reserved for a public hearing.

As a result, Markley resorted to the petitioning procedure laid out in the legislature’s joint rules. He said he got the 13 other Republican senators to sign a petition with him.

Now, legislative lawyers must draft the requested bill and the Judiciary Committee must schedule the legislation for a hearing.

Under the legislature’s rules, 12 members of the 36-seat Senate or 51 members of the 151-seat House can petition to have legislation drafted and scheduled for a public hearing.

Markley said this rule was commonly used during his first stint in the Senate in 1986 and 1987. He said it appeared to have fallen out of use since he lost re-election in 1988. He rejoined the Senate two years ago.

Markley and Adinolfi originally proposed to bar inmates convicted of violent crimes from receiving credits. Markley said the bill that is being drafted now will seek its repeal.

Currently, inmates are not eligible to receive credits if they have been convicted of murder, capital felony, felony murder, arson murder, home invasion and first-degree aggravated assault.