The Department of Correction has released 7,589 prisoners – many of whom were convicted of violent felonies – under the Risk Reduction Earned Credit (RREC) program since September 1, 2011.
A beneficiary of the early release program, Frankie Resto received 199 days of credit through this program and got out of prison early. But after being out of prison for only two months, Resto was arrested by police for allegedly murdering a 70-year-old convenience store clerk in Meriden.
Resto should still be behind bars. Instead he earned credits and was released. Now a family has lost their father and grandfather in a horrific way.
State Victim Advocate Michelle Cruz, a respected non partisan official, has raised serious concerns regarding the scope of the program and its impact on victims’ rights and public safety.
For example, Cruz estimates the state has only 1,800 beds at half way houses and 3,500 behavioral slots available to those who receive early release. Simple math shows if 7,589 prisoners have been released then there are 2,289 without a supervised place to go.
Where are they living? Who is supervising their release? Why aren’t they given a psychiatric evaluation before they are released? In addition, how is the ‘risk reduction credit’ program being carried out and exactly how are the credits are calculated?
I have had reservations about this program since it was first brought up for debate. I felt so strongly that I voted against this policy on the senate floor and stated at the time that this policy isn’t keeping our families safe. It is rewarding violent and reckless people who should be serving the time they were sentenced too.
The State’s Victim Advocate (OVA), Michelle Cruz says many of the offenders are being granted RREC for simply signing up for a program without completing the program. Cruz also found inmates have been denied parole for failure to complete required programs while at the same time earning risk reduction credits for enrolling in programs they do not need.
For example a sex offender who refuses to sign up for sex offender treatment as required, is instead signing up for programs such as study of the Philippines and receiving credit for early release.
The Department of Correction (DOC) Commissioner was given a lot of leeway to develop and administer this new program when the majority party voted to pass this law. The statute gives the DOC Commissioner authority to grant inmates credits worth up to five days off their sentence for each month they participate in re-entry programs. And the credits are retroactive to 2006!
Cruz has asked DOC to calculate the recidivism rates of the 7,589 inmates released through the program. Of those, 773 have already been returned to custody for either committing a new offense or violation of probation or parole.
In reviewing these 773 the Office of Victim Advocate has learned the new arrests include:
- Violation of a protective order (felony)
- Carrying a dangerous weapon (felony)
- Attempt to commit arson 3rd Degree(felony)
- Burglary 3rd (felony)
- Attempt to commit arson 1st degree (felony)
I agree with leaders of the Judiciary Committee who are asking the DOC to suspend the program and investigate how it is being implemented. At the very least the following should be required before any inmate is released early:
- a psychiatric exit evaluation
- a risk assessment of danger to their victims
We would be wise to ask the DOC Commissioner to halt awarding these credits and to investigate this programs effectiveness and affect on public safety. Our families deserve no less.
Senator Guglielmo is a ranking member of the Public Safety Committee.