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