Jan 27, 2009

New program aims to better protect victims of domestic violence in Connecticut

The title of this article in the Republican American is a bit misleading. The program in question, designed to keep the addresses of sexual assault, stalking and Domestic violence victims confidential, is not "new"It was in fact created via the passage of a bill by the Conn legislature in 2004. And though clearly an important program that could help save lives, it has not been used by Connecticut's crime victims simply because our courts have been remiss in informing them that the program existed.

While The article does make mention of the fact that the bill has not been utilized much, they cite shelters and local agencies as the culprits in not passing the info along to the many victims that they deal with- In reality it is the victims advocates and prosecutors in the state of Connecticut who should have been recommending this program to all victims of stalking and/or sexual and partner violence whenever there was a history of threats and/or the possibility of future violence (and as you might imagine, this is quite often.)

Unfortunately, this under-utilized program is reminiscent of many other state and federal "programs" that have become programs in name only simply because victims are not made privy to their existence by the very people charged with ensuring their future safety.
As reluctant as I am to bring up my own experience with Connecticut's judicial system, every so often it is imperative to certain discussions regarding the experience of crime victims in this state.; A number of years ago I was a victim of violent crimes and although the crimes occurred in my home in the suburbs, the case fell to the nearest presiding GA city court-As luck would have it a busy courthouse that had recently lost a savvy and tough judge who had been presiding over its domestic violence docket for several years. Connecticut's criminal judges only serve 2 years stints and for the relatively short time that he presided, this court had secured a reputation as one of the toughest- and best DV dockets in the state. However, once this judge left, it was as if the teacher had left the building and the lackadaisical apathy that had dominated the court in the past, resumed its hold once again.

I daresay that my experience within the Connecticut judicial system was far more damaging to me than the brutal violence of the assault itself . and I do not say this lightly.The treatment that I received within the court was utterly spirit crushing and it far surpassed mere negligence, but for the purposes of this post Ill stick with the most pertinent transgressions;
First I was never informed that there was a state and a federal programs available to help reimburse victims for medical costs and lost wages due to injuries sustained within their crimes. I was never even asked if or how I was managing these things, especially as I was unable to work at all for well over a month and only part time for many months after that, due to a traumatic brain injury and a cochlear concussion inflicted by my assailant.

It was also never mentioned ti me that the court could order my assailant to pay restitution for my medical costs and/or my lost work time, as part of any "plea deal" approved by the states prosecutors. Restitution is indeed an important part of accountability and as such is standard procedure in many state courts for most cases involving assaults

The most serious insult committed by this court occurred when I was moving out of the town that my restraining order was filed in; I asked via the victims advocates office ,to have the restraining order re-filed with my new address and sent to the appropriate new police department- I was instructed to do this by the very Police dept that presided over my new home address. They informed me that if my assailant were to violate the order at my new address, they would be unable to arrest him without an official copy of the standing criminal restraining order on file with them with my new address on it. They suggested getting this done asap.

The victims advocate called me back to tell me that the prosecutor refused to refile the order saying that "if they did this every time a victim with a standing criminal restraining order moved ,they'd be filling out paperwork forever".
When I asked if she'd informed the prosecutor that the local police dept instructed me to do this, she'd answered yes, but they didn't care.

"They didn't care." This was a case where stalking was one of four charges, as well as terroristic threatening-I had been told by my assailant that if I reported him to police he would "finish the job, no matter how long it took" Indeed, one of the reasons I was moving at all was that this dangerous man had only received a suspended sentence with probation within a deal, and had already broken the restraining order several times and it was clear to me that something very drastic would have to happen before the court took any viable action..

Luckily at this point I had had some time to heal from my injuries as well as a pretty severe case of post traumatic stress which had consumed me for months after the crimes and the lackluster resolution of my case. I was beginning to get back some of my signature strength and tenacity, I placed a call with the assistant to the prosecutors supervisor who worked in a seperate courthouse and explaining all of the difficulties that I'd encountered as a victim of crime within his court. For whatever reason this compel the and my prosecutors boss filed a certified copy of the order to the proper police dept, but did not explain nor apologize for the prosecutors refusal to do this in the first place. There is not doubt that the address confidentiality bill would have served me very well had I ever been made aware that it was an option. As it was, I had enough problems being afforded my basic rights as a victim of crime in Connecticut.

Unfortunately, my experience is far from an isolated case within Connecticut's courts-in fact some have said that it is one of the better resolutions! I have since spoken to hundreds of women in Connecticut who have been given what would appear, the rote treatment for victims of intimate violence; lack of communication, lack of respectful treatment and almost without fail, dragged out adjudication of their cases, ending with a plea bargain, no trial and always reduced charges and dropped charges. Many other cases still are nolled and all charges dropped completely, presumably for lack of evidence or due to the defendants status as a "first time offender." Thus, a first strike long before any official first strike.

To be fair, there are some tough, committed prosecutors within our state Domestic violence dockets,but they are theexception. Anytime a victim knows her attacker, albeit someone she dated once for a short time, it falls under the Domestic crime umbrella.

And where judges once ruled the courtroom, with a 96 percent plea bargain ratio, most judges have become figureheads, giving an obligatory nod to whatever deal was worked out by the prosecutor, whose motivation is often clearing the daily docket as quickly as possible.

New Coulter Voter Fraud Investigation Reveals Danger To Domestic Abuse Victims

Jan 13, 2009

Joseph Duncan moved to federal penitentiary to await Death Penalty

I have been giving this a lot of thought and I can honestly say that knowing that Joseph Duncan III is one step closer to receiving the death penalty does bring me some solace-but its an uneasy solace.Even when this monster is actually put to death, and with our system's plethora of auto-appeals for its death penalty cases, this will be a ridiculously long time, I still wont feel that "justice has now been"done".
The awful truth is there is no justice to be had for what this man did, He killed an entire family in coldblood in a most cruel and brutal way, just to abduct the two youngest children for his sick pedophiliac purposes.
We came to find out that the children witnessed some of their family' members being murdered after which the terrified pair were taken far away deep into a isolated forest campground by thier family's killer. Then Duncan abused and brutalized the children for 7 weeks before inexplicably killing the little boy with a shotgun in front of his sister.

That sweet faced little eight year old girl is about to become a teenager-She somehow survived this nightmare and lived to tell authorities the entire horrible tale, serving as a very competent sole eye witness to all of the crimes.

Joseph Duncan will be allowed to live for at least 10-15 more years while the obligatory succession of court appearances and filings are meted out and dealt with. His Government financed attorneys will do their best to slow down even further the already creeping process that precludes the actual administration of a death penalty.

Over the course of these years Duncan now 45 ,will have a decent clean place to sleep and plenty of food to eat. He'll have books and magazines to read, along with many letters--most from disturbed women (and men) who will profess their undying love, devotion and understanding for his plight-He may even be allowed to wed one of these fans depending on that prisons regulations .It happens all the time in prisons, and the word is that he has already had one female fan -on the "outside"-offer to marry him.

He will undoubtedly spend some time blogging as he did for years between his crime sprees and recently on and off since his capture,( Purportedly an anonymous party posts for him after receiving his Duncans handwritten blog entries via the snail mail.)
He will surely be interviewed regularly by the media, FBI and forensic shrinks, the latter who will try to pick his brain in order to better understand the pedophile criminal sociopath-Either way, its attention that he's getting and socio's thrive on attention.

When he is ill he will receive good medical care and GIVEN proper medicines as needed-the same with his psychiatric issues-he is most likely already on an anti-anxiety/psychotic meds.
He will be kept in solitary confinement for his own protection for the duration of his time and As such he will not have to fear, as other inmates do, attacks by fellow inmates-for any reason, including but not limited to the fact that he raped and killed children - a frowned upon group of crimes in the world of incarceration. There is some kind of honor, as it turns out ,"among thieves"

When his appeals are finally exhausted, assuming that none of them are successful IE his sentence gets reduced, he will be given a last meal of whatever he wishes and as plenty of visits with a religious advisor of his choice. He will be given opportunity's to spend time and say goodbye to his family members. And when the hour comes he will be put on a gurney and considerately put to sleep with an iv medication. Once sleeping he will be administrated a medication that causes his heart to stop.

Now I ask myself,,,Is this Justice?

Jan 9, 2009

Great actions and Good ideas:"Cut it out" Program

Next time you visit your favorite salon, ask whether its hairdressers participate in a national program called "Cut It Out" www.cutitout.org/ a great new program that trains hair care professionals to weed out and refer clients who might be in abusive relationships to local domestic violence programs.

Featured in a November 20, 2008 New York Times article, the program which is based in Chicago has trained 40,000 salon workers in all 50 states to recognize signs of domestic abuse. According to the article, Cut It Out has been adopted by the Empire Education Group which has 87 cosmetology schools and endorsed by the American Association of Cosmetology Schools, which represents 800 schools.

"The privileged, often therapeutic relationship between hairdressers and clients has long been the subject of magazine articles and movies. A growing movement in New York and across the nation tries to harness that bond to identify and prevent domestic violence, a pervasive problem that victims are often too ashamed to reveal to law enforcement or other public officials," according to Leslie Kaufman who wrote the article.

If you would like to know more about "Cut It Out," contact Dianne Mooney, Co-Founder, 2201 Fifth Avenue South, Suite 100, Birmingham, AL 35233.

Jan 7, 2009

Violent partner crimes by Connecticut resident finally lead to severe prison sentence

Another near fatal partner-violence case was committed by a local Hartford man who was well known to Connecticut's criminal justice system. A repeat offender with a specialty in stalking and battering women, the assailant had thus far managed to avoid any serious prison time for a series of violent crimes over the past 10 years.

The by now familiar theme of 'Ill decide when its over, not you...!". was once again at the nucleus of this latest bout of violence--If not for the quick action of the victim, this assault very easily could have become another domestic homicide in our area.

This time however, a decidedly intelligent and appropriately tough Massachusetts judge presided over the case; After scrutiny of the defendants criminal history, she over-ruled the prosecutor's recommendations for sentencing and gave the defendant a much stiffer prison sentence. It feels good to say that justice was served today.

Equal pay for Women before Congress

While this blog is generally aimed at issues surrounding violent crime, particularly those against women and children, I received an email yesterday that I considered important enough to deviate a bit from the status quo. Moreover, the issue at hand requires prompt action on behalf of as many readers as possible, thus I wanted to get it out there asap. Your involvement may help determine the future of gender- equitable pay in our country. Please read the letter below and click on the link on the title header above in order to contact your appropriate congress member before the approaching deadline, when it will be voted upon.

Dear laurel,
Congress is slated to act as soon as this week on fair pay for women — and we need your help.
The House is expected to vote later this week on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act — key bills that would give women the tools they need to challenge pay discrimination. The Senate may follow with a vote as soon as early next week.

Please contact your Members of Congress today with a clear message: It’s time to raise our voices in support of pay equity for all women by passing pay equity legislation immediately, so President-Elect Obama can sign it into law during his first few days in office.

Thank you for your support.
Irasema Garza

Founded in 1970 as the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, Legal Momentum is the nation's oldest legal advocacy organization dedicated to advancing the rights of women and girls.
New York: 395 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
Washington D.C.: 1101 14th Street, NW, Ste 300, Washington, DC 20005
www.legalmomentum.org/ .