Hugh McQuaid photo

The August murder of an infant in Bristol highlights deficiencies in a state program aimed at rehabilitating prisoners, a group of Republican senators said at a Wednesday press conference.

Arthur Hapgood, the man accused of stabbing a young girl to death on Aug. 19, was permitted to participate in the Correction Department’s Risk Reduction Credit program despite repeated offenses during his time as an inmate, Sens. Len Fasano and John McKinney said.

The program was adopted under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration and passed by Democrats in the legislature. It allows inmates to earn credits for participating in recidivism reduction programs. The credits can be used to reduce an inmate’s prison sentence by up to five days a month.

According to records obtained by Fasano, Hapgood earned credits for participating in rehabilitation programing, despite failing several drug tests in prison and committing other violations. Fasano said drugs appeared to be factor in the murder Hapgood is accused of committing and Hapgood tested positive for the drug PCP following the August murder.

“This is a system that’s fundamentally wrong,” he said. “With a lack of oversight and a lack or responsibility, this is a conveyer belt for releasing people without regard to their record.”

Following an unrelated event, Malloy said crime was down under his administration and Republicans were trying to win elections “by scaring people.”

“This is an individual who did 90 percent of his sentence as opposed to 85 percent, which is the minimum,” he said. Republicans “also didn’t point out to you that this crime that [Hapgood] committed was after 100 percent of his sentence would have been completed. They’re trying to grab information, distort facts around the information, and use it as a way to scare people.”

McKinney and Fasano said there were plenty of warning signs in Hapgood’s case and he should have served his entire sentence or been charged for additional crimes due to his conduct in prison.

“The guy’s doing drugs in prison and what? He isn’t charged with anything for that?” McKinney said. “. . . This incident has highlighted failures.”

Fasano said the administration “stonewalled” him and his staff while they were researching Hapgood’s case.

“There’s no transparency here and I understand why — because there’s Hapgoods all over this system and they don’t want us to know about them,” Fasano said.