Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) today joined the Office of the Victim Advocate and legislative leaders in asking the administration to suspend the controversial Risk Reduction Earned Credit Program (RREC).
This new Connecticut law, which Sen. Boucher voted against, primarily because it allows violent felons to be included in the new program, rewards inmates for good behavior. This change allows violent offenders including those convicted of rape, murder and kidnapping to get weeks, months, and even years taken off their court ordered prison sentences. The credits can be awarded retroactively to 2006.
“After hearing today’s testimony from the state victim advocate, it is clear that this program is putting our public safety at risk,” said Sen. Boucher. “Although having the inmate serve their full sentence may not prevent them from hurting someone again, it does send the right message that we are serious about preventing crime and safeguarding the public.”
On Tuesday September 18, the Judiciary Committee held an informational hearing on the Risk Reduction Earned Credit Program at the state legislative office building in Hartford. At the hearing the State Victim Advocate (OVA), Michelle Cruz presented a compelling case as to why this program should be suspended.
Cruz revealed 7,589 inmates have been released under the RREC program since it began in October of 2011. In the first month of the program Cruz reports 33.9% of inmates were re-arrested for committing crimes.
“When the RREC was passed into law almost all victims families told my office they felt betrayed by this policy. They’ve lost faith in the system,” said Victim Advocate Michelle Cruz.
On June 27, a 70-year-old Meriden small business owner was shot and killed at his Meriden convenience store. The man who has been arrested for that murder was able to earn 199 days of risk reduction credits while serving time for a robbery conviction.
Sen. Boucher also expressed her disappointment that three invited guests to the hearing declined to show, including:
- Under Secretary of Policy and Management Criminal Justice
- Department of Corrections Commissioner
- Pardons and Parole Board Chair
“The state of Connecticut is undergoing an unprecedented change in its judicial policy,” said Sen. Boucher. “Accelerated rehabilitation for serious crimes places the public at risk and reduces their sense of security and damages their quality of life and does not provide justice to victims and their families who are very upset.”
Sen. Boucher believes this policy compromises the state’s number one responsibility, the safety of our public. Boucher points out that criminal justice policy reduction over the last two years in Connecticut include:
- lessening fines for drug possession,
- repeal of the death penalty,
- And utilizing home confinement of DUI and drug offenders instead of sending them to jail.
“These changes send a message that Connecticut is soft on crime. We only have to look to New York City – they eliminated petty crimes and according to Forbes made the city one of the top 10 safest in America,” said Sen. Boucher. “There is a huge deterrent factor that one has to consider when setting these policies. If the safety of our neighborhoods, law enforcement and correction officers is further compromised by weakening public policy, we are failing those who have placed their trust in us."
This hearing of the Judiciary Committee is certain to produce a strong legislative proposal to address the concerns brought forward to the administration.