Danté Bartolomeo, Democratic candidate for the 13th District State Senate seat, last week proposed legislation to amend the state’s Risk Reduction Credit program that would prevent individuals convicted of a class A or class B felony from reducing their sentences by up to five days per month.
Bartolomeo, who currently serves as Deputy Majority Leader on the Meriden City Council, also included in her proposal a provision that would prevent certain repeat offenders from benefiting from the Risk Reduction program.
The murder of Meriden resident Ibrahim Ghazal at the East Main Street EZ Mart on June 27, 2012 was the impetus for the proposed change in the law. Frankie Resto, the prime suspect in the murder and robbery, previously earned 199 days of risk reduction credits while serving 75 months for 1st degree robbery.
“Along with the rest of the Meriden community, I offer my most heartfelt sympathies to the family of Mr. Ghazal on their tragic loss,” Bartolomeo said. “Given his previous criminal record, I am deeply distressed that Frankie Resto was able to have his sentence reduced by almost 200 days under the current Risk Reduction initiative. This proposed change in the law will ensure that our state’s most violent and dangerous criminals will not be able to expedite their release as a result of this program.”
Under the current law, only individuals convicted of murder, capital murder, felony murder, arson murder, aggravated sexual assault or home invasion are ineligible to earn risk reduction credits. The new proposal includes 34 additional felonies that disqualify certain criminals convicted since 1994 from participating in the program, including those convicted of 1st degree manslaughter, assault, sexual assault and rape, robbery, burglary, human trafficking, child pornography and acts of terrorism. Any individual with a prior class A or class B felony conviction who is subsequently convicted of any other felony offense would also be ineligible.
The new recommendations also prevent individuals with a prior class C or class D felony conviction from being eligible for the program if they are later convicted of an additional class C or class D felony that resulted in death, physical harm, the threat of physical harm, rape or sexual assault, firearms violations or activities related to terrorism. As with the original version of the law, most nonviolent offenders will still be fully eligible to earn risk reduction credits for good conduct and participation in prison programs aimed at reducing recidivism while assisting inmates in their transition back into society.
Bartolomeo, whose husband has served as a police officer for over 20 years and prior to that was a youth service officer at a juvenile detention facility, believes these changes will uphold the spirit of the law while more effectively protecting Connecticut from its most dangerous criminals.
“Our citizens deserve laws that serve the dual purpose of punishing convicted criminals while providing rehabilitative services that ensure these same individuals have the tools necessary to serve as productive members of society upon their release,” Bartolomeo said. “These changes to the Risk Reduction Credit program will uphold the compassionate spirit of the law while still ensuring that our worst offenders pay their debt to society.”