Seen this? Yes, we ARE being heard.

March 27, 2017

The Waterbury Republican-American editorial below shows that yes, our efforts to speak out for victims of violent crime ARE being heard. Please share this editorial, email lawmakers [email protected] urging them to pass my Bill 428, and sign my petition at . Thank you!

Prison reform
Worries about recidivism
(Waterbury Republican-American Editorial)
March 24, 2017 –

Connecticut’s Risk Reduction Earned Credit program desperately needs reform.

The program can be an important criminal-justice tool, but there are legitimate grounds for questioning its effectiveness.

The program was established by the legislature and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy shortly after the governor took office in 2011. Inmates in state prisons can have as many as five days taken off their sentences each month, provided they take classes to prepare for productive lives upon release; behave while incarcerated; and serve at least 85 percent of their sentences. Prisoners excluded from participation are those convicted of “any of four murder charges, aggravated sexual assault in the first degree and aggravated sexual assault of a minor, second-degree burglary and home invasion, first-degree manslaughter and first-degree manslaughter with a firearm,” the Republican-American reported.

Michael P. Lawlor, Gov. Malloy’s top criminal-justice policy adviser, said the program “would be an effective tool at enhancing rehabilitation and fighting recidivism,” the Connecticut Mirror reported May 31, 2011. Since then, several high-profile cases have suggested the program is not effective at “fighting recidivism.” Program “alumni” Frankie “The Razor” Resto, Arthur Hapgood and Edwin Glass faced serious charges after their releases. Resto and Hapgood are back in prison, possibly for life.

These cases are part of a disturbing trend.

During a March 20 news-media availability, Sen. Len Suzio, R-Meriden, presented state data that indicate inmates who participated in the program “later committed 87 murders, 112 rapes and 4,401 other violent crimes,” the Republican-American reported March 21.

Sen. Suzio long has been an outspoken critic of the program, especially since one of his constituents, Ibrahim Ghazal, was murdered by Resto in June 2012.

These numbers call into question the current operation of the program.

Gov. Malloy long has downplayed problems. He has chosen to focus on the program’s positive aspects, like inmates serving more of their sentences and, at least in theory, coming out of prison with skills. He also believes the program reduces recidivism.

Those are fair points, and they are why the program shouldn’t be shut down altogether.

Still, history “can’t be brushed off” – as we put it in a Feb. 24 editorial. Ignoring it would amount to recklessness.

Legislators are focusing heavily on the program.

They would be wise to target their efforts at making it more effective at reducing recidivism.

Gov. Malloy should, too, and residents should encourage him to open his eyes.