Editor's Note: This is a press release from Hovey's office.
HARTFORD — A man accused of brutally murdering a 70-year-old father of six last month earned 199 days of early release time for ‘good behavior’ while in prison for first-degree robbery, which is considered a violent offense in Connecticut. State Representative DebraLee Hovey (R-112) said this tragic event raises red flags about the Malloy administration's Risk Reduction Earned Credits program, a policy she opposed but was enacted this year by the governor and legislative Democrats.
"When a family with six children loses its father to a senseless crime, and the individual accused of this crime was a violent offender was allowed to accrue early release credits because he demonstrated 'good behavior', I think we need some questions answered," said Hovey.
Frankie Resto stands accused in the shooting death of Ibrahim Ghazal on June 27 in Ghazal's convenience store. According to a videotape supplied by police, Ghazal is seen handing money over to the gunman who then leveled a gun at the storekeeper. Police said Ghazal died of a single gunshot to the chest. Resto turned himself into authorities in New York City a week later.
According to revised statements from the Malloy administration Resto qualified for the early release credits but was unable to use them. The Democrats created the Risk Reduction Earned Credits program in 2011 allowing inmates, including violent offenders, to cut short their sentences by exhibiting "good behavior." Republicans opposed the legislation and offered a bill that would have specifically excluded inmates such as Resto from early release. The Democrats turned down the Republican proposal.
Hovey called upon the Corrections Department and Malloy to explain the steps that led to Resto’s ability to earn the credits while incarcerated. Resto was freed on April 12 and 10 weeks later the murder was committed.
"We opposed this legislation last session precisely because we felt that this policy would lead to violent criminals being released, and that’s certainly not good public safety policy," said Rep. Hovey.
Resto was convicted of first degree robbery which is considered a violent crime in Connecticut and is a Class B felony.
According to the Department of Corrections, Resto began serving a six-year three-month sentence for first degree robbery on Jan. 23, 2007. He earned 176 days of jail credit for time served and an additional 199 days for the Risk Reduction Earned Credits. He was denied transfer to a halfway house and was voted to parole as of Feb. 12, 2012. Because of an issue with his sponsor, he was not paroled and instead released at the end of his sentence.
The original proposal from Democrats would have allowed virtually all prisoners not on death row to be eligible for the Risk Reduction Earned Credits program but were forced by Republican objections to scale that back.
“Despite our efforts violent criminals like Resto are still able to walk free thanks to this program,” said Hovey. “The citizens of this state deserve answers, and the family of Ibrahim Ghazal is owed an explanation.”
Rep. DebraLee Hovey represents the 112th General Assembly District covering Monroe and part of Newtown.