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Calls For Change In Early Release Credits For Inmates

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File photo of a prison fence. (Photo by FRANK PERRY/AFP/GettyImages)

File photo of a prison fence. (Photo by FRANK PERRY/AFP/GettyImages)

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Connecticut legislators were urged Friday to repeal or revamp the program that allows Connecticut inmates to earn credit toward early release for good behavior.

The Judiciary Committee heard testimony on several bills affecting the initiative, enacted in 2011, which allows inmates to earn up to a maximum of five days a month off their sentence for complying with certain programs, and for their accompanying good behavior. Such credits can be revoked.

Sen. Michael McLachlan, R-Danbury, said the program should be repealed, calling it a “dangerous public policy” that has led to repeat offenses.  He pointed to the case of Frankie Resto, who was charged with the 2012 robbery and murder of a 70-year-old Meriden convenience store owner. McLachlan said Resto was able to earn 199 days of risk reduction credits while serving time for a robbery conviction.

“We have the responsibility to protect the public safety of Connecticut citizens,” McLachlan said. “We failed to do so on the day we passed the risk reduction credit program and we failed to do so on June 27, when one of our citizens was gunned down in his own business by a risk reduction credit program inmate.”
Department of Correction Commissioner Leo Arnone opposes a repeal of the program. He said early data show it has had positive results by encouraging offenders to get involved in meaningful programs that positively affect their behavior.

Since the program’s inception, he said, offenders have earned an average of only 61 days in risk reduction credit awards and ultimately served an average of 95 percent of their sentences.

Arnone expressed support for another bill that ensures violent offenders cannot be released until they serve at least 85 percent of their sentences.

Both bills await action by the Judiciary Committee.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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