OPINION: ‘Risk reduction’ program for inmates is risky to our communities

OPINION: ‘Risk reduction’ program for inmates is risky to our communities


By Sen. Len Suzio

“Why wasn’t he behind bars, finishing his sentence?”

That was the question I asked six years ago when Frankie “The Razor” Resto robbed Meriden convenience store owner Ibrahim Ghazal at gunpoint and then murdered Ghazal in cold blood.

Resto was a “graduate” of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s Risk Reduction Earned Credit (RREC) early prison release program. If they display good behavior and take classes while they are behind bars, participants can get five days taken off their sentences per month.

Frankie “The Razor” Resto shouldn’t have been out on the street, but he was.

Now, fast forward to last month.

I was left asking the same question after an armed convict who hadn’t completed his prison sentence was charged with shooting at police during a robbery in Hamden.

· The suspect in the Hamden case is a man named Kiwaun Cole.

· Cole has a history of convictions for violent crime, including a conviction in 2007 for his role in the murder of 17-year old Carmelo Torres of New Haven.

· Cole was a participant in Malloy’s RREC program.

· Cole had been discharged from prison 402 days ahead of schedule.


Kiwaun Cole shouldn’t have been out on the street, but he was.


The Cole case has again shined a bright spotlight on the early prison release program. Was this another example of the failure of a dangerous program for criminals, or was it an outlier, not indicative of the early release program’s success in rehabilitating violent criminals?


We now know the following shocking information based on inmate files I requested and obtained from the Connecticut Department of Correction:


· From September 1, 2011 through December 31, 2017, there were 48,162 discharges from Connecticut prisons of criminal inmates who received at least one RREC

· The 48,162 discharges consisted of 39,176 individual criminals

· During the first year of the program there were 8,727 discharges of prisoners who had received at least one RREC

· The first-year group of 8,727 discharged inmates who received RRECs was readmitted 8,351 times for committing another crime after their discharge. This is a prison readmission rate of an astonishing 95.69 percent!

· Of the 39,176 inmates discharged with RRECs, 12,705 were convicted and readmitted to prison for having committed serious or violent crimes.


Among the crimes RREC recipients were convicted of after their early release from prison are:


Murder/homicide: 119 convictions

Sexual assault/rape: 154 convictions

Sex crimes involving children: 603 convictions

Strangulation: 263 convictions

Robbery/burglary: 1,988 convictions

Assault: 1,916 convictions

Criminal violation of a protective/restraining order: 1,201 convictions

Kidnapping: 63 convictions


Put those statistics into perspective.


During the first six plus years of the release program, a murder or rape has been committed once every eight days by an early release criminal who had been discharged prematurely from Connecticut prisons. The numbers also tell us that every day since the inception of the program, nearly six violent or serious crimes are committed by convicts who had participated in the “risk reduction” program.


To any objective observer, it should be obvious that many of the criminals let loose from our prisons ahead of schedule have not been reformed. They have instead remained hardened criminals – and a threat to our families and our communities.


These statistics are an overwhelming indictment of the failure of Gov. Malloy’s early release program to rehabilitate violent criminals. They serve as proof that the program does not reduce risk to our communities. Quite the opposite is true. The program exacerbates the risk our families face – just ask the Ghazal family.


This year, I have asked the state legislature’s Judiciary Committee to raise a bill identical to the one I had proposed last year, and which was passed by the Committee and the State Senate, but never received a vote in the House. My bill would add four violent crimes to the list of crimes that are not eligible for participation in the early release program. The crimes include (1) first degree rape, sex with a victim under age 13 or a mentally incapacitated person or gang rape, (2) first degree assault of an elderly, disabled or blind person, (3) first degree assault of a pregnant woman resulting in the death of her baby or (4) first degree assault using a deadly weapon.


I will keep pressing for reforms to this failed program, and I appreciate the support I have received from Republicans and Democrats in this ongoing effort to make our streets and communities safer.


*Sen. Suzio represents Cheshire, Meriden, Middlefield, Middletown and Rockfall. He can be reached at 800-842-1421. On the web: www.SenatorSuzio.com .

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