Senator Frantz & GOP Lawmakers Slam State for Handling of Arthur Hapgood’s Release, Demand Reform

September 10, 2014

Senators John Kissel, Scott Frantz, Len Fasano, John McKinney, Tony Guglielmo

Hartford – Prior to allegedly fatally stabbing a baby in Bristol on August 18, Arthur Hapgood was released from prison early thanks to the state’s Risk Reduction Earned Credit program, in spite of failing three drug tests in prison and helping two inmates escape from custody from a halfway house four months earlier.

At a press conference in Hartford today, Senator Frantz (R-36) joined fellow Republican Senators to discuss flaws in the state’s early release program, which allowed Arthur Hapgood to leave prison early.

“This extremely sad situation is made all the worse by the fact that the state was well aware of multiple warning signs that indicated Mr. Hapgood was not ready to be released from prison,” said Senator Frantz. “In this case, a violent criminal who reoffended in prison and failed multiple drug tests was out early because he allegedly successfully completed a drug rehabilitation program. Clearly, this individual was not rehabilitated and the risks were not reduced. We cannot support a system where inmates can commit crimes while in prison and still get out early.”

Hapgood, who was arraigned yesterday on murder charges, was previously serving a 71-month sentence for a 2008 robbery. While in prison, Hapgood accumulated early release credits by taking part in educational classes, holding a job, and participating in the Offender Accountability Plan and successfully completing, according to DOC officials, Tier 2 (intensive outpatient addiction services). He earned credit for these programs, while also failing three drug tests and refusing to take a fourth.

Hapgood was also allowed to leave prison in May 2013 as part of a community release program. However, he received a “technical violation” while in the program after helping two inmates escape in July 2013. He was then sent back to jail, where he continued to earn additional early release credit.

In addition to Hapgood’s failed drug tests and his “technical” escape violation, he also had multiple other violations while in prison including: intoxication, disobeying a direct order, violation of program provisions and fighting. In total, Hapgood lost 45 credits as a result of these cumulative offenses. He kept 233 credits. The Risk Reduction Earned Credit system has a formula to calculate earned credits, but lacks a formula for reducing credits.

Senator Frantz and fellow Republican senators called for the state to take responsibility for the flaws in the Corrections system and the early release program.

“An unspeakable tragedy occurred in Bristol last month. An innocent child was sliced open and murdered by a person who should not have been released from prison. And now, no one is taking responsibility for creating the situation that led to this crime,” said Senator Fasano, Senate Minority Leader Pro Tempore. “State officials have blamed this crime on Hapgood’s drug use, a persistent problem the state knew about while still rewarding him early release credits anyway. It is time for the state to be held accountable for the system failures that have put the public in danger. Instead of defending the system, the Department of Corrections and the governor should be talking about fixing the problems that led to this mess and continue to threaten public safety.”

Senator Frantz supports changing the system to prevent the future release of dangerous criminals who fail to show signs of rehabilitation.