Sampson Demands End to Early Release Program

by Christopher O'Brien
Rep. Rob Sampson

Rep. Rob Sampson

State Representative Rob Sampson (R-80) says it is long overdue for the state to rollback its policy of early release credits for violent offenders. Sampson calls the policy “catastrophic”. The policy, put in place by Governor Dannel P. Malloy and legislative Democrats, was enacted in 2011. Since then, numerous violent crimes, including murder, have been committed by individuals released early under its provisions. Sampson has introduced legislation that would eliminate the program, known as Risk Reduction Credits.

There is an irony in naming this program ‘Risk Reduction Credits’ as their implementation has only increased the risk to public safety,” said Sampson. “Governor Malloy has issued in an era of unprecedented softness on crime in this state, particularly concerning the matter of violent offenders. Despite clear evidence that this program is a failure, the governor and his administration has doubled down on it, insisting it be maintained. It betrays the public trust, and it betrays the victims of the crimes committed by these criminals.”

During the 2011 session, the Legislature passed the legislation without a public hearing to allow the Department of Corrections to award early release credits for good behavior for a reduced sentence. While those guilty of crimes such as murder, aggravated sexual assault in the first degree and home invasions aren’t eligible, other violent criminals such as child molesters, and arsonists are.

Sampson highlighted several news stories of individuals who were released under the program who quickly returned to violent crime. One of those criminals is Arthur Hapgood who stabbed a one-year-old girl to death last August after participating in the program, despite having failed several drug tests in prison and having committed other numerous violations while incarcerated.

Sampson’s bill, HB 5199, An Act Eliminating the Earned Risk Reduction Credit Program, is currently before the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, but Sampson is not optimistic about its chances. “The Democrats have made it pretty clear that they will not be considering the repeal of this program,” said Sampson. “But I intend to keep pressing the point throughout the legislative session.”

Sampson did note that another bill, HB 6926, An Act Concerning Lengthy Sentences for Crimes Committed by a Child or Youth, does have a provision which adds to the list of crimes that make a convict ineligible for the program, but said it does not go far enough. That bill had a public hearing on March 4th.

This session of the Connecticut General Assembly will adjourn at midnight, Wednesday, June 3rd.

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