‘Serve the time’

Now that the trial of Frankie “The Razor” Resto is over and he has been sentenced to 53 years in prison for the murder of Ibrahim Ghazal, it’s time for the people of Meriden to understand the unambiguous truth and the critical role Connecticut’s infamous “Early Release” program played in springing Resto from jail to prey upon Mr. Ghazal.

Mark Twain once quipped, “There are 3 types of lies: Lies, damned lies and statistics.” Undersecretary for Criminal Justice Mike Lawlor has seriously misled the public with equivocal statistics regarding Mr. Resto’s premature release from prison. Mr. Lawlor is fond of repeating that Frankie Resto was released from prison after serving 91 percent of his prison time. According to Mr. Lawlor, this is longer than the 85 percent that was the norm for the previous law. By juxtaposing these numbers, Mr. Lawlor implies that the Early Release law is tougher than the old law.

What Mr. Lawlor does not disclose is that Mr. Resto’s release from prison was delayed because a qualified “sponsor” couldn’t be found. Resto’s longer prison time had nothing to do with the Early Release law. The omission of this fact would lead someone to believe that Early Release was the reason for Mr. Resto’s delayed release from prison.

There are other critical omissions in Mr. Lawlor’s misrepresentations regarding Resto’s “Early Release”:

• Mr. Lawlor has not divulged to the public that the application of the “risk reduction earned credits” had actually shortened prisoner Resto’s sentence to the point where the Department of Corrections was compelled to release him on April 14, 2012 for “time served.”

• Undersecretary Lawlor has not disclosed that, because Early Release compelled the premature liberation of Resto for “time served,” Resto was discharged without a sponsor who would monitor him and be responsible for him.

• Undersecretary Lawlor has not disclosed that Resto was released on “probation” and not on “parole” because of Early Release credits. This is critical in the murder of Ibrahim Ghazal because release on probation requires a court proceeding for any violation. On the other hand, criminals released on parole can be quickly swept off the street without a court proceeding. The Department of Corrections knew Resto had violated his probation but they had to use the time-consuming process of formal court procedures to issue his arrest warrant. Ironically, the warrant was delayed until the day after the murder.

It is clear that the Early Release Program played a critical role in accelerating the discharge of this dangerous criminal and letting him loose on more lenient conditions.

Last year, the Legislature passed a bill that was misrepresented to the public as toughening the law for violent criminals. The change mandated that violent criminals must serve at least 85 percent of their sentence before being eligible for discharge with Early Release credits. That change itself underscores Mr. Lawlor’s deception of the public. If the law had been responsible for delaying Resto’s release to 91 percent of his sentence, why was there a need to codify the 85 percent minimum?

The “acid test” for any meaningful reform of the Early Release law is, “Would this change have prevented the premature release of Frankie Resto from prison?” Mr. Lawlor’s statements that Resto had been released from prison after serving 91 percent of his sentence demonstrates the “reform” makes no difference in Resto’s case.

Let’s stop coddling violent criminals and start thinking about their victims.

The 53 year prison sentence handed to Resto is nothing compared to the lifetime sentence suffered by the Ghazal family. Connecticut’s law for violent criminals should be, “Do the crime. Serve the time.”

Len Suzio is a member of the Victim’s Advocate Advisory Board.



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