Markley Forces Public Hearing on Repeal of Early Release

March 8, 2013

Hartford, CT – State Senator Joe Markley (R-Southington) has called for the repeal of the controversial Risk Reduction Credit Program—known as Early Release—for over a year. Now he is getting a public hearing on his bill to end the program, thanks to an obscure rule he remembered from his first term, twenty-eight years ago.

“It’s clear this program is a failure and we need to get it off the books as soon as possible,” said Markley. “I’m disappointed it’s taken this long. I fear this administration does not take public safety seriously—it’s up to the legislature to end the early release of violent criminals.”

Markley will have a public hearing on his proposed bill to repeal the program, thanks to a petition process the senator utilized when his committee initially failed to consider his proposal. Under the legislature’s joint 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.

“We reached back into the rule book to find the opening, then I secured the signatures of all fourteen Republican Senators on the petition to force a public hearing. I’d seen the rule used occasionally when I served back in the 1980’s, but I’m told it hasn’t been tried in over a decade,” said Sen. Markley.

Markley’s bill—SB 123: AN ACT REPEALING THE RISK REDUCTION CREDIT PROGRAM–would prevent convicts from earning credits which allow them to get out of prison early. Currently, the Risk Reduction Credit law allows violent felons–including those convicted of rape, manslaughter and kidnapping, or sexual molestation of a child under 13–to earn as many as five days off their sentences each month.

“Very dangerous criminals are being let out of prison every week before serving their full sentences. Many of them have been re-arrested for committing new crimes, including murder,” added Sen. Markley.

The former Victim’s Advocate, Michelle Cruz revealed that 7,589 inmates had been released under the RREC program since it began in October of 2011. In the first month of the program, Cruz reports 34% of these inmates were re-arrested for committing crimes.

“When the RREC was passed into law, almost all victims’ families told my office they felt betrayed by this policy. They’ve lost faith in the system,” said Cruz.

There have been two documented cases of tragedies tied to the Early Release law.

  • Last June in Meriden, at the EZ Mart on Main Street, the 70 year old shop owner was shot in cold blood by Frank ‘The Razor’ Resto, a beneficiary of the Early Release Program. While in prison for armed robbery—a despite a long record of violent behavior behind bars–Resto earned 199 days of “good behavior” credits.
  • In East Hartford, 25-year-old Kezlyn Mendez was charged with murder for the shooting death last August of a 47 year old employee of Circle H Food Mart. Mendez had also earned credits through the program and was released early from prison.

“This program is so dangerous to the public safety of our people it warrants using every rule in the book to stop it,” said Sen. Markley.

The Judiciary public hearing on the bill must be scheduled by the co-chairs before the committee deadline which is April 19th.