“Help him make meaningful progress.”

February 9, 2018

Suzio 2018-02-05 Early Release Press Conference (3 of 10)

(Please read and share the attached Waterbury Republican-American Editorial.  Send me your thoughts at [email protected] – thank you!)


Connecticut prisons: Early-release reform is needed

Sen. Len Suzio, R-Meriden, again is calling attention to Connecticut’s Risk Reduction Earned Credit early prison-release program. The program has been the focus of controversy since its 2011 establishment by the legislature and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. With lawmakers in session, the program should receive scrutiny.

Gov. Malloy’s administration pushed for the program. Michael P. Lawlor, the governor’s top criminal-justice policy adviser, “argu(ed) it would be an effective tool at enhancing rehabilitation and fighting recidivism,” the Connecticut Mirror reported on May 31, 2011. Participants can have up to five days taken off their sentences per month, so long as they behave while incarcerated; take classes to prepare for productive lives; and serve at least 85 percent of their sentences.

Unfortunately, there is reason to doubt the program’s effectiveness at “fighting recidivism.” Most infamously, program “graduates” Frankie “The Razor” Resto, Arthur Hapgood and Edwin Glass were arrested on serious charges after their respective releases. Resto and Hapgood have been returned to prison, possibly for the rest of their lives. During a Feb. 5 news-media availability, Sen. Suzio noted Kiwaun Cole, who allegedly shot at a Hamden police officer on Jan. 24, participated in the program. According to the senator, Cole was released Nov. 29, 2017, instead of May 11, 2020.

Going forward, the program should do more to further Mr. Lawlor’s stated goal. The legislature and Gov. Malloy should prioritize enacting legislation requiring “the Department of Correction to prepare recommendations for improving compliance with accountability plans, including stripping inmates of credits for misconduct,” as the Republican-American reported last year. Such legislation cleared the House last year, but stalled in the Senate. In addition to Sen. Suzio, co-sponsors included Reps. Arthur J. O’Neill, R-Southbury; Anthony J. D’Amelio, R-71st District; Lezlye W. Zupkus, R-Prospect; Nicole Klarides-Ditria, R-Seymour; and David K. Labriola, R-Oxford. Resto and Hapgood remained in the program despite lengthy records of poor behind-bars behavior. If nothing is done, the purpose of the program will be defeated.

Meanwhile, Sen. Suzio is pushing legislation that he says would make “anyone convicted of a serious assault offense or forcible rape ineligible to earn risk reduction earned credits.” Similar legislation stalled last year. The only inmates ineligible for 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,” according to the Republican-American.

Sen. Suzio has provided steadfast leadership on this issue since 70-year-old Meriden resident Ibrahim Ghazal was killed in 2012 by the newly released Resto.

Now is the time for other Capitol policymakers to help him make meaningful progress.

It would be nice if Gov. Malloy, a former prosecutor, would drop his blasé attitude toward program problems and step up to the plate.