Risk Reduction Law Increases Risks to Public Safety

by Christopher O'Brien

Rep. Rob Sampson

Crime has been on the forefront of people’s minds and in the news headlines lately due to many violent shootings and deaths in some of Connecticut’s largest cities this summer.

Since the legislative session ended in May, I have been able to meet with many folks in the district and one of the big issues that continues to be brought up is the decision to repeal the death penalty.

Who can forget this past April when Governor Malloy and the majority in the legislature pushed to repeal Connecticut’s death penalty instead of addressing its flaws to make it a workable law? Under the repeal law no one convicted of capital felony murder would be executed prospectively except for those 11 men currently on death row.

I voted against repealing the death penalty for a few reasons. First, I believe there are violent crimes committed by offenders that are so heinous the death penalty is the appropriate sentence. Also, the “prospective’’ nature of this repeal proves just how disingenuous and political a vote this was. I can certainly respect those that don’t believe in the death penalty for moral or personal reasons but to say that it should apply to some criminals and not others is unconscionable.

Unfortunately, now what I predicted has begun to come true. A few of the 11 death row inmates have started plans to sue the state because of the inequality of the death penalty law.

Along with the death penalty repeal, I also voted against the Risk Reduction Earned Credits program that passed by the legislature and was signed into law in 2011. This new law allows inmates, including violent offenders, to cut short their sentences by exhibiting so called “good behavior.”

A man accused of brutally murdering a 70-year-old father of six last month earned 199 days of early release time while in prison for first-degree robbery, just one of the violent crimes eligible for these good behavior credits in Connecticut. This tragic event proves how fool-hearted an idea this has been.

At the time this was being debated in the House of Representatives, I supported an amendment that would have specifically excluded inmates such as Resto from early release. Unfortunately, this amendment failed and today, violent offenders are being allowed out of prison before completing their sentences.

I believe this law needs to be reversed and will continue to fight to do so in Hartford.

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