I want to share with you a deep concern I have about a state public safety issue and a frustration with the response of our government officials.
I have opposed the state’s Early Release program for convicted criminals since it came before the legislature — without any public hearing or time for research — as a part of a massive bill in the final hours of the 2012 legislative session. I joined my friend and colleague Len Suzio in speaking and voting against the proposal then, and in organizing against it ever since.
Nearly three months ago, I requested basic information about the Early Release program, including: The names of inmates released early; the crimes they committed; the amount of time taken off their sentences; and whether they had been returned to prison.
I was told — by the Freedom of Information Unit at the Department of Corrections, which exists to answer such questions! — to seek the information elsewhere.
As I expected, the office they referred me to did not have what I needed, and staffers were surprised anyone thought they might. When I asked again, I was told my request had been passed on to Mike Lawlor, the governor’s criminal justice czar. Lawlor’s office neither responded to my request nor to my calls: They stonewalled.
I strongly suspect that the information on Early Release would reveal a failed program and a threat to public safety. If it were working, the administration woul d be happy to share the facts. Instead, they are hiding data which I believe will show that this program puts the citizens of Connecticut at grave risk.
Two murders have been committed already by inmates let out under the Early Release program. We know at least 8,000 people have had their sentences reduced since the ill-considered law went into effect, with more released every week.
Ten days ago, I filed a complaint with the state’s Freedom of Information Commission, and let the press know what had happened. I found that reporters share my frustration: The Malloy administration routinely resists FOI requests, mocking the principles of transparency and open government long established in Connecticut.
If you’d like to help, please sign our petition at endearlyrelease.com. I will pursue the facts until I have them, and I will fight this terrible law until it is repealed. The safety of our citizens must come first.
State Senator Markley (R) represents the 16th District towns of Waterbury, Southington, Wolcott, Cheshire and Prospect.