Editor's Note: Check back with Middletown Patch later today for coverage of Sen. Len Suzio's press conference this afternoon at Middletown Police headquarters.
A state senator has renewed his call for a suspension of the state's inmate early release program after a city man, a felon with 28 convictions, committed a lewd act in front of her on a Middletown Area Transit bus on Sept. 18.
State Sen. Len Suzio (R-Meriden) will hold a news conference at 4 p.m. today outside the Middletown Police Department on Main Street to renew his call for suspension of the state’s controversial inmate early release program.
Suzio's call follows confirmation today by the state Victim Advocate that the Middletown man arrested Wednesday for masturbating on a bus in front of a 14 year old girl was awarded credits under the program and was released from prison early despite 28 prior convictions, including sexual assault, burglary and assaulting a public safety officer.
Joseph Mabery, according to the Hartford Courant, was convicted in 1990 of raping a Wesleyan University student at knifepoint in her room.
“How much more evidence do we need?” asked Suzio. “Dangerous criminals who have not been rehabilitated in any way are being released from prison early and recommitting serious crimes. This program is a failure; it puts our public safety at risk; and it must be suspended immediately. We cannot wait until the next legislative session. We shouldn’t wait another day. We must stop this program before another Connecticut resident becomes the victim of a violent offender let out of jail early.”
According to police and newspaper reports, Joseph Mabery, a registered sex offender with 28 prior criminal convictions, was riding the Middletown Area Transit Bus when he started masturbating in front of a 14 year old girl. The incident was recorded by the bus’s security camera and police have arrested Mayberry.
State Victim Advocate Michelle Cruz has confirmed that Mayberry was awarded time-off his latest prison sentence due to the new inmate early release program, formally called the Risk Reduction Earned Credit Program.
The RREC program became law in July 2011. It allows Connecticut inmates – including those convicted of rape, kidnapping, child molestation, and other violent crimes – to have their court-ordered prison sentences reduced by up to five days per month for every month they are incarcerated. Provided inmates exhibit generally “good behavior” and attend basic re-entry classes, they can earn credits retroactive to April 1, 2006.
Republicans unanimously opposed this law in 2011 and offered an amendment to repeal it in 2012. They argued that violent criminals should not be eligible for early release from prison; that such a program threatens public safety and breaks faith with the promises made by judges and prosecutors to victims and their families.
According to the State Victim Advocate, in the programs first nine months, 7,589 inmates had been released from prison after applying RRECs. 773 of those inmates are already back in jail. The program came under intense scrutiny this summer when a criminal released under the program was arrested for the murder of a Meriden resident.
On April 12, inmate Frankie Resto was released from prison for time served for a robbery conviction. Resto had been sentenced in January 2007 to 13 years in prison, suspended after 75 months, on a first-degree robbery charge stemming from a 2006 holdup at knifepoint in Meriden. He had been in custody since the end of July 2006. Under the new early release program, Resto received 199 days – or more than six months - of risk reduction credits – and he was released from prison early.
Two months later, on June 27, the 70-year-old owner of a Meriden EZ Mart, Ibrahim Ghazal, was shot and killed while working at the Meriden convenience store he owned. Frankie Resto has been arrested for that murder.