Senator, Victim Advocate Question Risk Reduction Program
Meriden Sen. Len Suzio and state Victim Advocate Michelle Cruz said there’s something wrong with a system that lets an inmate like Frankie Resto out of prison.
Resto is the man accused of killing 70-year-old Ibrahim Ghazal last month at a Meriden convenience store. Resto earned 199 days of risk reduction credits, according to the Corrections Department.
However, not all of the credits were applied, and unlike most inmates, Resto served 91 percent of his sentence. Typically prisoners serve 85 percent of their sentence before they are released on probation.
Michael P. Lawlor, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s top criminal justice adviser, said Resto would likely have been released earlier, if not for policies the administration has implemented.
Under the old system, Resto would likely have been released last November if there was no specific reason to keep him once he had served 85 percent of his sentence. But the administration focused on identifying violent individuals in the criminal justice system so Resto wasn’t released until he had served 91 percent of his sentence, Lawlor said.
Resto was released in April of this year.
“The idea that you could take a tragedy of what happened in Meriden, this murder, and turn it into some sort of a political football is really outrageous,” Lawlor said. “I think it’s extremely irresponsible to capitalize on a tragedy like this.”
Suzio obviously disagreed. He called Resto the “poster child” for the failure of the risk reduction credit system, which allows inmates to shave five days per month off the end of their sentence if they participate in programs to help with their transition back into society.
Even if the risk reduction credits weren‘t applied, “doesn‘t that demonstrate the failure of the system,” Suzio said at a Capitol press conference. “He received them. Whether he actually used them or not, he earned them.”
It’s unclear if Resto’s behavior in prison merited the credits.
“He actually got drunk in prison at one point in time,” Suzio said. “He set a fire in a prison, yet he still earned 199 days early release credits?”
It’s irrelevant whether any of those credits were applied, Suzio opined.
“The point is he was eligible and he got them. To me that underscores what’s wrong with the system,” Suzio said.
Suzio and Cruz are calling on the Malloy administration to provide them with more information about how the credits are being applied. It’s their understanding the Department of Corrections applies the credits before the case goes to the Board of Pardons and Parole.
The Department of Corrections, according to Cruz, has reported to her that 773 of the 7,589 inmates released through with risk reduction credits have been returned to custody.
However, she said that number does not include those who have been released on bond or have warrants out for their arrest for violating probation.
It’s unlikely the Malloy administration is going to accommodate any sort of hearing on the risk reduction credits, which were approved by the legislature more than a year ago.
Lawlor, a former lawmaker, said if Suzio was serious about getting something done he wouldn’t be holding a press conference because that’s not how public policy is changed.
Click here to read more about the program and the political divide.