HARTFORD – Following the disclosure at a hearing today that the state failed to properly monitor convicted criminals released early from prison for “good behavior”, House Republican Leader Larry Cafero today said the Risk Reduction Earned Credit program should be suspended.
One of those released early should have been picked up at least four times for violating probation, according to Victim Advocate Michelle Cruz. That man was later charged in the June 27 murder of a Meriden shop owner. Another shop owner in East Hartford was killed last month by an early-release offender, according to police.
“The inability of the state to properly monitor high risk offenders who were given early release has proven to been an abject failure. It appears the state saved money by implementing this program,’’ Cafero said. “Shame on the system.’’
Judiciary Committee Republicans (including state Reps. Themis Klarides, John Hetherington, Christie Carpino, John Shaban, Rob Sampson, DebraLee Hovey, Al Adinolfi and Bill Simanski) staged the hearing after Democrats and Malloy administration officials refused to explain how the controversial program is administered. At least 775 early-release offenders have already been re-arrested, according to Cruz. More than 7,500 convicts were released en masse because the credits were made retroactive for five years.
“We are calling upon the administration to suspend this initiative in order to safeguard the public. Convicts who show little or no interest in changing their behavior should not be receiving any breaks from the State of Connecticut,” Cafero said. “The Democrats claim they need more time to let this program work out but it is already too late for the families of two men who were gunned down this summer
Based on data Cruz provided, hundreds who piled up early release credit were not being rehabilitated behind bars. “The two tragic murders this summer were emblematic of a much larger problem. There are potentially hundreds more cases that might end badly because of lack of oversight and how this program is administered,” Cafero said.
Cruz said that the recidivism rate for one month after the program started was over 30 percent
Republican opposed the implementation of the plan because as originally crafted, it would make violent felons including murderers eligible to participate. Democrats re-drew the parameters but still allowed violent offenders to take part.
“Clearly the focus has been on why these two charged with murder were granted early release credits. But hundreds more who were released early broke the law numerous times again. It is not too early to say that the program needs to be suspended until significant changes are instituted by the Malloy administration,” Cafero said.