Jan 26, 2008

Gov Rell clashes with legislators over three strikes bill

Two articles worth reading regarding the judicial reforms that were passed-and the ones that were not.

Press Release from State Senate Democratic Leadership

Above is an article with the basic highlights of the judicial reforms that actually passed the senate and the legislature this past week. As expected The three strikes ammendment did not pass the senate, nor the legislature. There are several reasons for this and none of them substantial.
And as much as I have been a non-advocate of a blanket three strikes law being the single fix it answer, the amin argument being that we've currently got a version of this that prosecutors do not use allegedly because it is so convoluted and poorly constructed, but in reality it is because it interferes with thier daily agenda's; power/ego mongeringng they do not wish black and white sentencing law as it robs them of the discretion of who will get a free pass and who will not.

Suffice to say, money and power are the two biggest reasons. Out of all of the proposed reforms, the three strikes bill seemed to be on its surface, the most potentially expensive- that is in the short term as presumably initially prisons would fill at a faster rate. However, bear in mind as it is all according to the proffesional bean -counters official fiscal layout-and I have a lot to say regarding both the methodology as well as the logic that is being used,in arriving at these statistics.

I need to make quick mention (the quick for practical reasons, but I promise to elaborate on this later) that I took great offense to the speech and the overall posturng of the female legislator in charge of the financial bottom lines for the State- more specificlly, the reform package before the GA for this whole special session.

Please be aware that there is still much more work to be done. This is in no way even a baby a fix. The main concern still is tomake certain that our current sentencing guidelines and laws are utilized consistantly by prosecutors and judges alike.

Judges need to be more pro-active in many Connecticut courts, particularly those that handle any violent crime. And all of this is dependent on thorough and careful record keeping from the arrest warrant all the way through the entire criminal judicial process-everyone involved in any of the descision making regarding how a violent criminal is to be handled, must have every piece of information about that defendent and his her record-Not merely what they wound up convicted of-

This is but a slice of incomplete and often misleading information and way too much action-or inaction by our collective Connecticut justice system -is based upon this. This has had disatrous consequences in the past and will again if not remedied. I mean c'mon people, for over 10 years the parole board was not recieving adequate records regarding any of the men and women they were paroling.

Supposedly members asked complained time andtime again and were still rebuked due to said copying costs involved! The states attorneys office did not want to pay the copying costs-this is the reason that we have been given for this gross deriliction of duty. I'm inclined to believe this, as I witnessed first hand the arrogance and utter non- cooperation of my states attorneys office in bridgeport GA2 regarding important life and death paperwork that I once needed; The following happened a year or so after my assault case was "resolved":

I was moving out of the town where the crimes against me had happened, trying to make a new start in a home that did not hold awful violent memories. I asked for an official copy of the standing criminal restraining order against my assailent from Ga2 court, via the victims advocates office. The order was standing-meaning for life and was the only solid thing that I had extracted from this court through the entire 10 month "judicial "process. The order stated that the man that had assaulted and stalked me , could not approach me or my dwelling within 100 yards. I needed the official copy to be filed with the police department of the town where I had just relocated. The police in the town where my new domicile was located told me explicately that I needed to obtain an official copy for them in the event that they had to act upon that order. They told me to get it from the court.
When I asked the victims advocates office for this official copy with noted address change on the order, they came back hanging thier heads a day later, telling me that the prosecutor refused to give this to them-or me-and the explanation from the prosecutor who had "resolved" the case was "that we dont change refile these orders everytime someone moves-otherwise we'd be making address changes and copies of restraining orders every five minutes if this were the case!
I actually had to complain to the head prosecutor within that office at ga2, after threatening to send a letter to his superior who ran the whole show over there but who was located in a seperate court building around the corner on Main st Bridgeport. He seemed more concerned that I not relay the ongoing difficulties that I had within that office to Mr Benidict, rather than desiring to truly help remedy my problem. But he did send the new order with a cover letter to the new police dept.
The fact that I had to go through all of this to obtain a peice of paper, that if not properly handled could mean my life, goes to show you how badly things are handled in some courts around the state. I recently read an article about ga2 court bridgeport-in it it said that the domestic violence docket at Ga2 was considered the gold standard for domestic violence within the state of connecticut. Of the two prosecuctors that handled my case-I complained about the first and was subsequently given another-a woman- that was even less prosecutorial and more insenstive and ruder-It was of course circle the wagons time, once I complained about one of thier own.
The first prosecutor who was buddies with my assailents attorney, who seems to specialize in defending men that batter women, has been promoted to head prosecutor in the state handling domestic violence, (oh this is so scary..) He actually spends half his time teaching-teaching other prosecutors and law enforcement about domestic violence!
The second prosecutor who technically made the plea agreement with my assailent, (although it was a forgone conclusion from what the first prosecutor promised the defense alreadyby the time she entered the picture) yes SHE, she is still at Ga2.

My case unfortunately was relegated to this docket-altho there was nothing domestic about my relationship with the man who assaulted me. He was someone I had dated and was now trying to extricate myself from.

What so many people dont know is that 9 out of 10 crimes committed in connecticut including violent crime) are handled by plea deals between prosecutor and defense attorney,( be he private or a public attorney such as we the tax payers are paying for for komisarjevsky and Hayes, killers of the petit women. ) And these are not just the so-called "lesser" crimes such as assault and burglary, (I am being facetious here-) murders are also handled with plea deals quite regularly as well.

And within this plea process, whatever actual crimes that the criminal committed and was properly charged with, are dropped down a notch -or two, as well as completely drop a charge altogether within a cluster of multiple charges committed within one episode of a criminal action- Case in point Mr Hayes convictions whereupon he broke a bunch of laws as at once, including two separate occasions of illegal gun possession-and two times the gun charges, which were serious charges, were dropped entirely by the prosecutor within the flurry of other charges

Meaning what cONNECTICUT and thus the public at large were left with as an official record of hayes's crimes, did not resemble at all what crimes he committed did and therefore what kind of criminal he was and thus the threat that he posed to the general public was again minimized with nary a thought about it. In fact the only reason that we know about tany of these lost charges of his is because much research is being done re this guys past, due to these brutal crimes of multiple rape murder and arson that he later committed. Normally the court, the parole board the public and police depts only see the end result convictions that formally exist after the plea wheeling and dealing and the concurrent dropping of charges

In Mr Hayes case alone that left approx 12 charges 12-that were completely dropped outright for no good reason other than this is the way we- the Conn judicial system- process our criminals take it or leave it. Well we are leaving it en masse.

And how does this tie in with the various judicial ammendments passed by The Connecticut General Assembly in this recent special session- This is how; In order to make these reforms work at all, we need to revamp our existing day to day modes of operating as well as the underlying core attitudes that fuel them. Not all Connecticut prosecutors are lackadaisical lazy indifferent or corrupt-but too many have become just that. And Corruption needn't always be in the form of a iteral bribes it can be the endorsing of a plea deal that is excessively lenient, as a favor to the defense attorney who the assist states attorney socializes with or ....they might hope for his support in future endeavors such as elections, promotions or perhaps even a career opportunities.. More often than not these deals are done out of laziness and utter disregard for the victims and possible future victims. Its easiest to make a plea deal than prepare for a trial, thus thedeal wins nearly every time, and they nearly always compromise the publics saftety.

And let me be clear regarding My definition of corrupt - Simply any corruption of the process of genuine justice- for any reason; this includes favor swapping cronyism, or simple laziness and indifference The lack of motivation to do more than the ABSOLUTE minimum required to simply keep one's civil service job be it prosecutor- judge or even court victims advocate-And although they rarely have any real power to trade or sell -they are capable of going along with the status -quo ,even when that requires turning a blind eye to the corruption that is aswirl all about them; violent crime cases being thrown out nolled and plead down to next to nothing at all, just because that is the "way it is' in that particular court, And remember they don't want to lose their jobs either by becoming too contrary with the prosecutors; As my victims advocate said once to me "laurel.... Ive got to work with these people every day, and long after your case is over...Ill still be here with them" My heart sank at that moment because i realized what she was saying to me, and why. It was thus not a surprise to me when that same victims advocate quit only 6 months after the final dispensation my case.
She was disgusted and disillusioned, I'm sure that like me she simply didnt know that this was how serious violent crime was to be treated in the state of Connecticut; little more than a wink and a nod between "prosecutor" and defense attorney, and the judge relegated to simply a symbolic figure who asked no questions and gives thier stamp of approval to the "deal " of the day.

Press Release from State Senate Democratic Leadership

Jan 23, 2008

Connecticut General assembly VOTES on reforms


The special session of the general assembly for the judicial reform amendment proposals began at 5 pm this evening it is still in session and it is on cable TV live still as of 1 am Jan 23rd. This link will take you to the local station in your area that is broadcasting the legislative session as it continues including the votes as they happen.

Needless to say, Attitudes are quite diverse with the usual obvious differences between party lines and between members who live and work in the inner cities, opposed to the majority of legislators who live in outlying suburbs. Oddly enough however those attitudes towards toughening up on crime were inverse to what one might expect from the people who are exposed to violent crime the most; The city dwelling legislators that spoke were by and large in favor of less incarceration, and more rehabilative programs such as the ones that both the Petit family killers were given the gift of participating in, as they made their ways in and out of the system after various arrests and prison stints

Update JAN 23 9 am
Much was said about crime being the result of hopelessness- And while this too was once my view, after becoming a victim of violence myself and thus studying criminal physchology, I have come to discoverthat plain evil does also exist(SOCIOPATHOLOGY) and in much greater numbers than the average person might want to comprehend, including members of the general assembly. This is called cognitive dissonance, and we need to learn about this, and grow past it particularly our lawmakers and enforcers.

A great deal of personal soul searching re these issues was shared. One legislator even went so far as to say that he could personally get rid of most crime in inner cities by simply giving criminals a15000 a year job-thus "HOPE" This is ironic in light of the fact that not only were the Cheshire killers employed full time, but they both had decent paying jobs as required by the state for Parole and indeed assisted by the re entry programs that our tax dollars pay for.
It is a well known fact that many inner city young men admittedly turn to drug dealing because of the allure of big money rather than working a 9-5 minimum wage job that they feel is bogus when they can make the quick buck with the sale of drugs.

A good deal was said, some of posturing for the cameras as well as the constituents ( this is an election year..), But many other members were eloqent, impassioned and appeared sincere in thier efforts and moral conscience regarding the states judicial failings.

The senate passed the package, but voted down the three strike amendment. The assembly went into the wee hours of the morning with a final vote approving the remaining reform bill. Next it goes to the governor and she is obviously expected to approve whats left of it.

Detailed accounts of individual senators and legislators input and the highs and lows of this session will follow later today.

Jan 22, 2008

Lawmakers to consider criminal justice reforms today

The judicial special session starts today, Please follow the proceedings and watch which legislators vote for- or against each proposal-and remember this information when its comes time to vote.
The Republican-American Lawmakers to consider criminal justice reforms

And For those of you who need to aquaint themselves with the composition of our Connecticut General assembly here is a link that provides the basics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connecticut_General_Assembly

Jan 21, 2008

Legislators say that 3-strikes law wouldn't have stopped killing

Missing the point as usual.
The general thrust of the above linked article is that the 3 strikes law, which happens to be on the table of the Connecticut General assembly tomorrow, would not have prevented the tragic murders of the Petit family members this past July, if it had been in effect at that time.

The Petit family murders are one of two recent hi profile murders in the state that were committed by 'persistent offenders" within one month period, resulting in the governors temporary ban on parole and and much legislative attention turned towards Judicial reform.
In both crimes each criminal had been released on early parole despite evidence pointing to their inappropriate candidacy for such, as well as having accrued an inordinate amount of felony convictions over the course of thier lives living within the state.

The above statement that Ive been hearing over and over like a broken record from many members of the legislature is very misleading; Standing alone, perhaps a three strikes law which only included violent felonies as potential strikes-would not have definitively kept the Petit murderers, in prison.

Yet 5 versions of a three strikes bill have been submitted and proposed to the GA over the last several months, each with VARYING degress of the crimes that would qualify for a strike" ie a conviction that is counted towards the three needed for a life sentence or a serious mandatory sentence.

California's 3 strike law has ammended its original version to now include at least one violent felony out of the total three convictions in order to be sentenced under the 3 strikes law.
An important consideration in all of this is whether or not the Ct legislature is going to requalify burglaries, whereupon anyone is in the residence, as violent-ie serious felonies, as has also been proposed.

This change in law is more likely to pass muster on a bi-partisan basis within the ga and as it should in light of the cheshire crimes and what we know about home invasions in general;the propensity for violence is significant period.

It also should be said here that Noone has suggested that this one bill-THE three strikes- would be the panacea fix-all for all that is broken within our Conn courts. However combined with the re-qualifier of violent felonies, a strict multiple offense mandatory sentencing law would have served both the Petits and the rest of our Connecticut citizenry had we had one;

If the many many felonies that co-defendent j. komisarjevsky had been convicted of - most of which were break ins of occupied homes, had been thus classified as the serious felony that they should be, those charges would have fallen under any of the versions of the three strikes sentencing laws so far submitted to The GA. . And thus, one half of the evil equasion that decided to break into the Petit families home to sexually assault mrs Petit and her young daughter-would have long been incarcerated for his first string of break ins-never mind the second string which amounted to 14 additonal break ins in a seperate county of Connecticut.

With the new Ct law proposing the re-classification of all night time burglaries as home invasions, and carrying automatic class b felony charges with a 10 yr minimum prison term, this alone, would have saved the Petit family; The prosecutor that handled the last string of komisarjevskys burgalries would have had no choice but mandatory sentencing for at least a
minimum of 10 yrs for just one home invasion convistion let alone the entire string of that he committed in 2002.

note; The first string of charges for the house burglaries were not even pursued against Komisarjevsky, as they were in a seperate jurisdiction, and as he had confessed to the second string while in custody for the first,-The prosecutor in that bunch adjudicated that group of crimes, as time served, for the time in jail awaiting his second group of crime hearings.
In other words he was given a big break insofar as sentencing for his many crimes. If sentenced for all of the crimes that he committed he could have easily been given 25 years, rather than 9 which ended up being 3 with early parole. Connecticut CURRENTLY offers parole at 50 per time served for all non violent crimes-which these were considered back then.

The second spree of home invasion crimes were the ones that at his sentencing hearing, the judge, noting his methods of stalking his victims and use of things like nighttime vision glasses and the like, called him "a cold and caculating predator who is clearly a threat to the citizens of connecticut." He stated that komisarjevsky should be done eith the DOC by thetime he was 36. Somehow he was instead done with doc at 26, except for his once a month parole meeting which would have continued for 2 years had he not murdered and raped and assaulted the Petits 3 days after his tracking ankle bracelet was removed by the Wise ole Connecticut DOC.

The point is that Both murderer/assailents of this family in fact had many criminal charges dropped completely within several seperate crime sprees, and this was all done within auto plea deals that are simply part of the daily process of what takes place in courthouses across our state. Which is why for a man to wind up with 26 actual felony convictions, by simple practical odds, he's had to have ACTUALLY committed many more crimes than what his conviction record bears.

Insofar as the Petit family crimes, yes, as it stands alone the proposed three strikes law wouldn't have prevented the crime, because up until now home invasions were not considered violent crime. (Home invasion being any robbery or attempted robbery that takes place at night or when the home owners are in the house at the time of the crime. ) I say "up until now" a bit prematurely since within this same bundle of reform proposals as the three strikes one is a proposal to re-classify any burglary taking place at night as a violent crime, as opposed to the present day classification of this as "simple" robbery- a non-violent felony. However most legislators on both sides have expressed support for this new classification law and it is bound to be passed in one form or another within the upcoming special session.

Komisarjevsky's self described methods of home break ins, the fact that watched his victims with night vison goggles, admitted that he got a "rush" only when people were home, This all should have been a BIG red flag for the Connecticut judicial system, as this is well known thrill seeking behavior with stalking and voyeurism at its core, as one can whos taken a basic criminal profiling class knows. I daresay that the stolen property from those robberies was almost incidental to Mr Komisarjevsky, certainly secondary to his true goal;

He admitted to wearing night vision goggles, watching his victims go about their lives through windows and in trees. He waited and listened as they fell asleep before moving throughout the hosue taking smaller items rather than any large electronics. In several instances, he stole personal effects from his victims, including women's lingerie and photographs of one homeowner couple, that had absolutely no cash value. Trophy's.

This again is classic psychopath behavior in the advancing stages of it's criminal evolution--
The final stage typically is sexual assault and homicide. This is a perfect example of why a criminals record's, from arrest to conviction to sentencing and all reports regarding thier behavior in prison and previous Parole re entry, should be meticlously gathered and in the
hands of any Parole board given the responsibiltiy of the descision to return this person to the general public. To do anything less is dangerous and absurd-and yet thats exactly whats been happening for years in this state.

We still may not know of other crimes committed by either of these men for which they have not been connected.. Allegedly Mr Hayes had a habit of frequenting prostitutes when smoking crack and there are several unsolved murders of prostitutes reaching back for years in this state, the sad part is we may never know the total sum of both of thier crimes.

Mr Komsarjevskys behaviors point loudly to sociopathic criminal persona, which at its core carries a lack of conscience and a chronic disregard for the rights of others, as well as enjoying
cat and mouse manipulation games with anyone who they perceive to be in positions of authority ie police, . judges parole board etc .Thus when I hear members of the Connecticut judiciary committee, who are supposed to be learned people, claiming that there was nothing in the background of either man arrested for the Petit murders, that could have predicted or prevented the tragic crimes from happening" ....To this I say nonsense;

As you can see The problems within many Connecticut courts go far beyond one or two issues that can be quick fixed with one ammendment. Some of these issues such as our poorly run parole system are crucial within the process of keeping our citizens safe from chronic offenders.This, along with the poor communication between parole members, prosecutors and police depts can be ameliorated with a relative modicum of effort. Others issues are less practical and more ethical and moral in nature; We have given over control of our courts to prosecutors and unscrupulous defense attorneys, and in this it is the victims of crime that suffer.

For every time that a crime involving any victim is plead out to nothing resembling what was actually inflicted upon that victim, he or she is utterly invalidated by the system, and in this way re-victimized all over again; But this time, the pain is somehow worse than the punches, the kicks the choking or the sexual assaults....because these people are supposed to be the good guys; This court in effect represents society, to a victim of violent crime, where truth and JUSTICE matter, and justice is not just a hollow word.

Neither Komisarjevsky not Hayes should have been candidates for early parole, or any parole for that matter. Mr komisarjevskys judge said in his sentencing hearing that he was being given 9 years sentence and 5 years special parole. He said "you will be done with the the conn dept of corrections by the time you are 36 years old." The prosecutor unlike so many of his compatriots, was intelligent dedicated and knew his criminal profiling-he pushed hard for a strict sentence as well as a long parole with special provisons including a tracking device, once he was released from prison. unfortunataley the lines of communication failed miserably, documentation was careless and scant and parole descisons were made nonetheless and were thus reckless and irresponsible. And we are now told that this was not an isolated case, this has been the way it is for years
That tracking device stayed on mr komisarjevsky for approx 2 months. The day it came off ,he resumed his life of crime, breaking into homes at night-this time with Mr hayes who he met in a halfway house, along for the ride. And as is so often the case two felons togther feed off of eachothers evil and thanks to the Connecticut judicial system, the Petit family never stood a chance.

If both of the reform changes-THE three strikes law as well as the home invasion break ins being classified as violent felonies, komisajevsky would have hit his third felony strike within his first two out of three robbery sprees(each spree involved ten or more homes all burgalirized at night-) in effect remanding him to prison for a minimum of 30 years, according to the legislature that is currently on the table for tomorrow's special session. Mr Komisarjevsky would still be incarcerated where he belonged and therefore unable to do any more harm to the innocent citizens of this state.

This is but two if's that we seem to be trying to remedy, but let us hope that those that sit on the general assembly tommorow look at the core issues of our broken justice system; a increasingly lenient and permissive sentencing and parole procedure, which many claim has as its roots in an over crowded and expensive prison system, which has progressively caused a decree of sorts to our prosecutors and judges that only the worst of the worst are to be given serious prison time, .

Jan 14, 2008

Rell Urges Strengthening Connecticut Justice System - New York Times

Rell Urges Strengthening Connecticut Justice System - New York Times

Dr. Petit said he thought that a properly written “three-strikes-you’re-out” law made common sense.

“It’s almost beyond belief that you could commit a violent crime and be convicted by a jury of your peers and then get out, and commit a second violent crime and be convicted by a jury of your peers, and then commit a third violent crime and then be convicted by a jury of your peers and still get out,” he said softly. “If you haven’t figured it out yet, then you probably won’t, and you should not have the right to remain in civilized society.”

This excerpt from the Dr Petit interview, referenced within this article illustrates the need for some important clarification for both the reader and Dr Petit-and this I say with the
utmost of respect for Dr Petit.

Dr Petits words show that he, like many other innocent citizens in the state who have had little experience or exposure to the day to day workings of our Connecticut courts, assumes that when a criminal winds up with a conviction on his record that it is likely via a trial-thus the" jury of your peers" statement.

I too, thought that this was the general way that things worked before I became a victim of Violent crime in this state. Although I had some working knowledge of the plea bargain system, I never dreamed that plea deals were the norm (other than the motor vehicle docket) and that trials were in effect dinosaurs of some romantic day long gone in the courthouses of Connecticut (and in all fairness, some other states as well)

Suffice to say our Connecticut courts have become little more than Plea bargain mills, where all day long every single or set of charges brought before a "JUDGE' beyond the arraignment process (THIS is the first step in hearing the crimes in most cases of violent and non violent crimes) are given continuance after continuance at so called hearings that typically occur on a monthly or bi-monthly basis as requested and indeed expected by typically both the defense attorney as well as the states attorney's office (the prosecutor whose dept the case in question falls under be it motor vehicle, domestic violence or regular criminal)

These hearings, whereupon little to nothing happens at all other than the defense or the state formally requesting a "continuance" to "explore the facts", ie "make discovery" usually means that the defense attorney has made a pre- determined arrangement already discussed behind closed doors or a phone call with the prosecutor who handles that docket, that they want or need more time...

And usually it is want and not need, for these continuances dually serve to bolster the attorneys bill as well as clear the prosecutors days work. In effect procrastinating on the tax payers dollar, and the victims backs. And this is not only allowed, but has literally become the daily MO of many, many courts in this State-especially those that handle crimes from any city of any size-which includes courts that handle all of the smaller suburbs as well, where folks believe themselves to be safer due to higher taxes and higher rent and property values.
Not so, as the tragic Petit Crimes so shockingly brought to so many surbanites attention.

Now remember, This is merely addressing the issue of excessive continuances, which is but one part of the problem , insofar as criminal cases taking so long to adjudicate. And this is without a trial or trial preparation. When there absolutely must be a trial-as in a murder case where the defendent faces possible life in prison or death and the prosecutor cannot keep face by accept a plea deal to a lesser charge-then the lenght of time that that case is going to take to resolve is obscene-often years and years.

And when there is a victim at the heart of that crime or set of crimes, this is unacceptable, and indeed an overt trampling of a victims rights, according to the Declaration of victims rights as created by the Office of Victims Advocacy in Washington D.C .

We hear so much about the defendants rights, yet we hear so much less about the rights of the victims of crime; Why? This core sentiment must be addressed and revised within the context of our States Judicial Reform package, or none of the so called fixes will matter. The victim is the embodiment of that crime being "processed' in that courthouse. And justice is something that simply does not exist in Connecticut.

Plea bargaining was originally a tool that the court had at their disposal when they wished to reward a defendant for accepting responsibility and accountability for their crimes. Accountability is the first neccesary step in rehabilation. If a defendant came clean and admitted to the actual crimes committed, as well as showed a modicum of remorse, then they were considered possible candidates for a plea deal.

A plea deal typically involved a lowered sentence (and less often a lowered criminal charge, ) generally whatever was appropriate under the sentencing guidelines for the crimes that they actually committed , or were being reduced to. Plea deals are agreed upon between the prosecutor and the defense attorney (or public attorney-which is a lawyer paid for by the state for those who cannot afford a Private one-such as the two men accused of killing the Petit children and women and assaulting Dr Petit)

However the judge presiding over the court is supposed to have ultimate discretionary power over that 'deal" Victims have no real say over a plea-deal resolution of their own case-in fact they are often seen as meddlesome and a nuisiance, if and when they are phyiscally and/or emotionally able to muster the strength to even become involved with the resolution of thier case. When they disagree with a set upon "deal" that so often invalidates thier entire experience as a victim of that crime, this is when it can really turn frutrating. And there is no group that oversees that watchdogs these courts-and when and official complaint is to be made against a prosecutor by a victim, it quickly becomes circle the wagons time.

These plea deals have become the normal mode of resolving cases. For example Less than 2 percent of all criminal cases at Golden Hill street court Ga2 in Bridgeport Connecticut are ever brought to trial-the rest are systematically given plea bargains which are automatic guarantees that each charge against the defendant will be dropped down to a lesser charge, therefore a felony becomes a misdemeanor, and in most cases of multiple charges- such as JK and hayes each had at every arrest, at least several of those charges will be dropped completely within this deal" that the state offers as status quo. Case in point Mr Hayes had two dangerous gun charges dropped completely in a bundle of other charges that he was being heard for. Its as if OK your guy will have to plead guilty to that one and well drop these okay? Never mind the issue of public safety, day after day after day the courts turned an apathetic head to the concept of where did these plea deal decisions leave both the victim's sense of validation over what they had suffered, as well as the possibility of more victims in the future!

And in many instances charges are dropped completely even for multiple offenders again like hayes and J.K the latter of whom had an entire set of burglaries in one town dropped, in light of his prosecution in the other string of burglaries in a different town! And this doesn't even begin to address the plethora of cases that are nolled, given something called "accelerated rehabilitation" (A program supposedly for first time offenders but there are plenty of loopholes here as well...)or... simply dismissed for a variety of reasons, many of which would appall the average citizen.

This auto pilot plea dealing is at the heart and soul of our broken Court system here in Connecticut and therefore any reform package that the Governor initiates in good faith, must include not only addressing this key issue but remedying it. We have relegated our judges to little more than officiaries, who often have no contact with the victims in case, and too many of them wind up merely giving their nod to whatever deal has been struck between the prosecutor and the lawyer.
This leaves way too much room for abuse of power and it needs to stop. It is endangering the lives of our citizens and it has been for a good long time now.
Please write your legislators, the judiciary commitee and the Governor we are a far cry from
"fixed" yet.

Jan 13, 2008

Justice "Fixes" ????

A fairly comprehensive look at Governor Rell's preliminary proposals for our States Judicial Reform plan. Take a look but beware of the notion of "fixes" The entire system needs to clean house, In effect to be dismantled and to be virtually rebuilt.
And those state employees that are guilty of reckless judicial decision making, favor swapping, self serving cronyism, and irresponsible handling of dangerous and violent crimes via the abuse of our plea bargain system -They need to go.
They should be disciplined and held accountable as well but that isn't likely to happen as so many courts are simply openly known to run in this crooked fashion so much that it has come to be the norm-just like the parole board operating without proper criminal records when making parole decisions that effect the safety of the entire public at large-how can they be punished when everyone knows that this is how its been done for ions, including many of the "powers that be". This is why the system must be dismantled-it has become overrun and prostituted.

These fixes and proposals are fine, but one must remember that we already have sentencing laws and guidelines that are not being used. If we do not revamp our collective attitude-(meaning the citizens and the legislature) toward criminal sentencing in this state, we are chasing our tails by spending time and energy debating and drafting new proposals when we historically do not utilize the ones that we already have.

The prosecutors are running the show in too many courts, it has become an revolving door enterprise, the likes of which no unindoctrinated citizen could possibly imagine, That is, until they- or a loved one- becomes a victim of crime.
More often than you could possibly imagine, the motives that fuel these judicial disparities are monetary, or power based- Rarely if ever is the best interest of the victim, AND justice a predisposing factor in the resolution of any crime that isn't murder. And even then its because now finally people are watching the outcome. Much like the Petit family murders of last July.

So when I see the end results of all of this judicial recklessness and corruption, in the form of the latest heinous rape, brutal assault, molestation or murder, almost always committed by people who have been arrested numerous times, yet possess a very disproportionate criminal record and served sentence- if one was served at all--I am thus no longer surprised. But I am angry.
As you should be as well. Because as most victims of crime in this state know; crimes like the Petit family assaults and murders were simply just a matter of when, not if. Its just that none of these judicial misfits ever conceived that one would be "this bad" And thus the the curtain was pulled back...

Jan 8, 2008

Cheshire heals through light...

"May the blessing of light be upon you. Light without and light within and light beside the darkness within." —

The words of this Celtic poem were recited by Dr William Petit Jr this Sunday afternoon, as the crowd gathered for the "Cheshire Lights Of Hope' a local fundraiser for Multiple Sclerosis, a disease of the nervous system that often strikes women in the prime of thier lives.
The Cheshire 'lights" was the brainchild of local resident Jenifer Walsh, who was diagnosed herself with M.S ten years ago. As avid fundraisers for MS, she and her husband John thought that the sales of candle-lit luminaries might be a creative way for the town to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis- From there, according to Mrs Walsh, The Cheshire's 'Lights " seemed take on "a life of its own", this largely due to the tragic home invasion in July that stole the lives of 3 members of one of the most beloved families in Cheshire-the Petit's. One of the three victims, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, was also battling MS at the time of her murder.

The sole survivor of the crimes, Dr William Petit Jr, sustained serious head injuries in addition to the loss of his wife and two daughters, Haley and Michaela. Both youngsters were very involved with charitable efforts for M.S, this ever since their mom was diagnosed with the disease eight years ago. Within the 5 years that she was involved with MS fundraising, Haley Petit managed to raise over 50,000 dollars through her own charitable organization, which she dubbed "Haley's Hope' Her younger sister Michaela, was readying herself to take the charitable baton in effect as Haley was preparing to attend Dartmouth College, this past fall.

Due to the entire families philanthropic involvement with M.S, "Cheshire's Lights of hope" grew to become part fundraiser/part Memorial --for the lives of the extraordinary Petit women, and as a way for the town to heal, by honoring the Petit's memory by emulating their giving spirit.

By Sunday evening thousands of luminaries, each one lovingly assembled by volunteers and purchased by caring townspeople for one dollae each, were laid out side by side illuminating the entire town of Cheshire. The word hope could be seen blazing from the skies above Cheshire Academy, and a magnificent cross lit up the entire downtown area.
Every single neighborhood participated in the lighting of the luminaries, a palpable undercurrent of unity-healing and love was present throughout the day and into the bright night.

While the official totals were not yet made public, the tentative appears to be nearly 100,000 dollars raised for the Multiple Sclerosis foundation.
As Dr Petit said in his speech to the overflowing Cheshire crowd, the spirit of his family clearly lives on--And he believes that "his girls" are now Celestial bodies lit up for all the world to see.."

NOTE: Double Click on this articles title header in order to watch a video clip surrounding the event..

Jan 4, 2008

A New Years Resolution for the State of Connecticut

I suggest that every citizen in the state familiarize themselves with all happenings regarding the Sentencing task force committee. The above link takes us to the official website for the Task force including meeting agendas and minutes for each meeting thus far. Remember, they last met on December 17 and they will meet again in January, presumably to discuss their official recommendation's to Governor Reall regarding Judicial reform within the state.

Certain task force subcommittees were formed by Governor Rell after the uncovering of major flaws within Connecticut's judicial and parole system, after the Petit family murders which were committed by two chronic offenders on parole. The task force is not to be confused with the regular Judiciary Committee, which is a standard arm of our legislative body here in Connecticut. The members of the latter are also very important individuals to familiarize oneself with and to follow closely insofar as their personal history regarding their stance on violent crime.

Our goal is to create a zero tolerance for violent crime in our state. This will only be achieved through multi-level judicial reform, which will include resolving the entire parole issue, the re-classification of certain crimes, based on historic intelligence regarding criminal motive and escalation, And also the Clean-up of an overly lenient plea bargain system, which has at its core the motive of relieving the state's prison over-crowding issue. This money saving agenda has been putting innocent citizens in harms way again and again for years now. It finally culminated in a set of violent crimes so brutal that the entire state stood up and finally took notice of hazards that have been going on for years and years within our courts.

There are several ways that the state can help defray some of the initial rise in prison population that is certain to follow stricter sentencing policy, one of which is the re directing of all non violent drug "offenders" into treatment and using a rehabilitative model for many victimless crimes. I for one would certainly rather our limited state prison beds go to violent offenders first, rather than those who have a series of shoplifting or drug possession charges.

To me this discussion always leads back to what the people (of Connecticut) care about the most...
Do we hold sacred the right to live our lives without violence imposed upon us or our loved ones?
And This includes so-called "domestic" violence crimes, which for years have been treated more leniently from a sentencing standpoint, than the equivalent violent crime committed by a veritable stranger-why?
This domestic violence classification has become so inappropriately broad in many courts that it now has come to include teen-dating violence, ex -partner violence (whereupon the victim of violence once dated the perpetrator) and any even violence committed by a person that once casually knew thier assailant!
And clearly while there should not be any delineation in how we punish or sentence any brand of violent crime, there is in fact a tremendous disparity which stems from decades old criminal/judicial tolerance for violence in the home, presumably between a married man and his wife.

Bad as this was, we now have this plethora of dangerously miscategorized crimes that are being handled in a shockingly lenient fashion--All of this because they have become swept into this umbrella of "domestic" crime, which has turned into little more than a get out of jail free card for any violent offense committed against someone that you know. This is unacceptable, and it disproportionately violates the rights of women and children.
Violence is violence, in any form- it always involves a victim and as such, it is never ever to be treated leniently.

Unfortunately as a people we are in effect allowing this kind of violence, by tolerating these and other judicial travesties within our courts. As well we send a message to our government, our lawmakers and lastly, the would-be violent criminal; We really don't take violence all that seriously around here.

We must have a consistently strong and clear deterrent against any and all violence. These crimes are the crimes that must carry the strictest punishment. There is no point in making appropriate well -thought out laws, when we regularly do not impose them on the sentencing level. In time, stricter sentencing will serve to deter these crimes within our state. What this means in human currency is... less broken bones, less head and brain injuries, less stabbings, shootings, burnings and rape.

And this is just a bit of the physical toll that these crimes take; Ask Dr Bill Petit about the emotional toll for so many victims; Post traumatic stress disorder, chronic anxiety conditions, learning disabilities, memory problems, employment problems, homelessness and even suicide.

The good news is that we have the power to greatly ameliorate the potential for any more human suffering-- By standing up and paying attention, by insisting that all of our courts consistently impose strict and appropriate sentencing for all violent crime-No matter the financial cost. Make it work.

May our New years resolution include getting involved in this crucial issue. Let us stand together, shoulder to shoulder, and become the first State to officially declare itself a zero-tolerance -for-violence zone..

OPM: Sentencing Task Force Agenda/Minutes