Nov 27, 2008

An Effort to Integrate Crime Data in Conn Gets a Chief -

Good news; a new chief has been appointed to head up the States brand new centralized criminal data base.

The database was conceived of and passed into legislation during last years emergency session called over the states criminal judicial crisis-The sessions were a direct outgrowth of several murders that occurred over a short time span in the second half of 2007. In each case the crimes were committed by recent parolees, all of whom had lengthy criminal records, were given plea deals that involved reduced prison time and charges, and then in some instances paroled after less than half of their already- reduced sentences.

Although there were clearly several missteps in the judicial handling of nearly every one of the criminals involved in these crimes, lack of communication between the states various judicial arms was a central theme.

Many state residents have been waiting to see the myriad of criminal/ judicial changes that were voted into legislation last year, become a reality. Among these, a new parole board, which was to include at least one full time criminal psychologist, as well as monies allocated for the hiring of new prosecutors, and presumably the re-training of existing ones.

This last reform is of critical importance and needs clearer clarification for the people of this state; The wording of the bill was extremely vague, especially considering the amount of money that was involved. Ie When the bill was first proposed it was to be for the hiring of more prosecutors period-the logic being that our courts were going to be trying more criminal cases in the future and plea bargaining less-this as information re the states inordinately high percentage of plea bargaining -96 percent of all criminal cases) came to light after the home invasions and murders in Cheshire and new Britain.Since is original inception however, I have seen the verbage of this bill twisted this way and that until one can no longer be certain exactly what those monies, specifically 600,000, is allocated to.

One thing remains clear and that is that we, the conscientious citizens of this state must keep a vigilant eye on the legislature and our courts for the practical application of each and every bill that was passed in the wake of last years tragic murders. The price paid for these measures were human lives and suffering. This includes the so called persistent offender bill that was passed in lieu of a public backed true three strikes bill; I have seen virtually nothing insofar as any data gathered regarding how -and indeed if, our courts are implementing this critical piece of new legislature. I hope this law is not rendered merely another phantom bill passed in what we can presume is good faith by the house, with no actual usability in our recalcitrant Connecticut courts.

Nov 19, 2008

A Sanguine Birthday

The following Birthday memorial was taken from this weeks Hartford Courant; It was written and posted by Dr Bill Petit for his daughter Michaela who was taken from this world far too soon. Eleven years old at the time of her murder she would have been 13 years old this November.
Rest in peace and Happy Birthday Michaela, we are all striving to honor your memory by living the ideals that you so clearly prized,

MICHAELA ROSE PETIT Nov 17 1995-July 23 2007

"Happy 13th Birthday, You were starting to try to be the change you wanted to see in the world. At the end of your 5th grade year you asked me about Barack Obama. Today you would be whooping it up with your friends, as your candidate won it all. Elizabeth is trying to keep your memory alive with and she is doing a great job. Your simple beauty and kindness is juxtaposed. "Deeds of kindness are equal in weight to all the commandments." (The TALMUD) Your cousins Andrew Paige Brooke Abby Molly Jacob Lydia Evan Michael Tristan Katherine Josh and Hannah, all miss you and think of you as their hero.
Your classmates and friends from Cheshire Academy Cheshire United Methodist Church and Chase Collegiate School as well as your "big sisters" from Miss Porters think of you every day. Your scholarship fund purchased a book of some of the poems of Robert Frost for all the 7th graders at Chase; the first stanza of " RELUCTANCE"

"Out through the fields and woods And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view And looked at the world and descended;
I have come by the highway home And lo it is ended. "

Our time with you ended far too soon and I still look over the walls and hills to see you.
I miss you and love you but know you are in the God's loving embrace. "

All My Love,
Your Dada"

Nov 17, 2008

Suggestions To Help State Budget

The excerpt below was taken from the linked article in this weeks Hartford Courant. Its
about about the obscene money that the state of Connecticut is spending on things like 24 hr prison guards who are posted on the two men that are awaiting trial for the murder and assaults of the Petit family in July 2007.

The costs of the guards alone is over 300, 000 year and this does not include the additional monies spent on roof snipers, special guards and deputies that accompany both men individually to every single court date related to thier respective cases.

As well we should consider that the state is also paying for an exhaustive criminal defense for what is a death penalty capital murder case; Both have public attorneys that are high up on the states pay-scale, due to their longevity and position---
And rather ironically we are of course also paying to prosecute these same men that we are paying to defend so vigorously-this is being handled by one of the top prosecutors in the state and his team of lawyers, investigators, paralegals and clerks, And the word is that the actual trial for this case is not expected to ven begin until sometime in 2010! Besides that fact that this time period is a travesty of justice for Dr Petit and the family of the victims, That's also another 2 years of paying for their prison upkeep; their food. tioletries, television, books and of course their dental and medical needs-something that many hard working and law abiding citizens cannot afford for themselves and thus must do without. Steven Hayes the older of the two defendents has reportedly been given anti-anxiety and pain medication on a daily basis for unknown"conditions" since he was first incarcerated.

The truth be told, this is just the tip of the iceberg re the state money spent on these two men,- And thus, each time I hear a legislator say something to the effect of how much money a three strikes law would cost the state-I say... take a look at what not having a repeat offender law or responsible senetencing practices, has cost us .! Just look at this case alone; if we had kept even one of these two men in prison, where they both clearly belonged, regardless of whether they committed the crimes against the Petit family or not, (noone should serve 3 1/2 years for over 20 felony convictions and even more actual charges as Komisarjevsky did ) we would have saved millions of dollars and much more importantly, Hayley, Michaela and Jennifer Petit would still be alive, spreading their goodness and compassion all around them.

"I understand that Hayes has been under a one-to-one watch since July 2007. That means each day, one correction officer on each eight-hour shift is assigned to watch Hayes in his cell. The person assigned to it is either on overtime or someone is called in to fill the regular job of the person assigned to Hayes and is paid overtime. That's time and a half most days, and double time and a half on some holidays. If a chemical agent has to be used in a nearby cell, that officer is not allowed to move. He or she sits there.

Here's the stupefying math: With regular overtime, we can estimate it's costing $40 an hour to watch Hayes for 168 hours a week . That's $6,720 a week, $349,440 a year. No other Northern prisoner has ever been on a one-to-one watch for more than a couple of weeks.

Hayes is neither an assaultive inmate nor a gang member. If he's a suicide risk, there's a medical unit at Northern. There's also Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown where, according to the DOC website, "adult male offenders with significant mental health issues have been consolidated at this Level 4 high-security facility."

Some spending cuts will be painful. Plenty, however, won't hurt at all. Start with Steven Hayes. Spending $350,000 a year on a fiend taunts taxpayers.

• Kevin Rennie is a lawyer and a former Republican state legislator. He can be reached at

Suggestions To Help State Budget --

Nov 15, 2008

"Operation Fuzzy"

Just when I think I simply cannot bear another day of bad news about yet another violent crime, along comes a hero or two just in the nick of time, to reaffirm my faith in the basic goodness of mankind.

Today this story was about an organization called the Frank Foundation and their project to help child victims of sexual abuse called "Operation Fuzzy." I stumbled upon a story about it
on former FBI profiler John Douglas's Mind hunter website and was at once saddened and moved by the back story, as is usually the case when reading about any victim support programs for children. On one hand I despise the fact that a program of this sort is even needed for children who have been sexually abused -while at the same time, the me that is grounded in reality, knows too well that there are hundreds of kids that will benefit from just such a program this year alone.

Needless to say, it's a thoughtful and wonderful program that helps fulfill a sad and unfortunately viable need; helping children to cope with the aftermath of sexual abuse crime. And like most programs of its kind, it is in dire need of funding, especially during these difficult economic times when donations and funding are at their thinnest.

The program, like so many others like it, was founded by people who have lived through their own life changing experience with crime; Two mothers of children whoe were victims of sexual abuse decided to take their mutual pain and turn it into effort, in order to fulfill a need that they were both intimately aware existed; helping children to better communicate, and cope with the painful aftermath of sexual abuse.

To read more about the Frank foundation and Operation Fuzzy, and/or to make a donation, please visit their website The Franks Foundation

Nov 13, 2008

Bloggers Against Abuse revisited


The above link will bring you to a very good article that helps explain how and why abusive relationships happen and evolve. We often hear " why does she stay with the abuser, she must want to be abused.... right? An emphatic no is the answer to this question!

It is not true that if the victim REALLY wanted to leave, she simply would for There is an emotional and psychological breaking down of the abuse victim that typically occurs long before the physical abuse begins, And this is then only excarcerbated as a result of the physical brutalization and ithe inherent fear involved with knowing what the batterer is capable of-
And it is this cycle that keeps the victim in the grasp of her batterer.

In order to understand how this happens, we would all do well to give ourselves and our loved ones a short course on the" battered woman syndrome", a term coined by psychologist Lenore walker, a therapist who has studied thousands of battered women as well as men that batter, and has made landmark discoveries about the nature of abusive relationships as a result.
She has written several books compiling all of the information that she has gleaned thru hundreds of studies and interviews. The books are very readable, easily teaching the average person about the previously mysterious nature ofdoestic violence. Walker has changed the way that partner violence is understood and to a lesser extent, how it's handled within our criminal justice system.

There is a quote by Voltaire 'that says "Evil exists when good men do nothing" and in the case of domestic violence and violent crime in general, this sentiment is especially apt/
So much pain and suffering could be avoided if more people would simply become involved when they see or hear of abusive situations within the realm of thier daily lives. In fact If I could have one wish for the coming new year it would be for all of us to make the following pledge...

'If I suspect that someone I know is being abused or is in danger of being abused, I will report the abuse or the potentialr abuse to the appropriate authorities. I will thus avail myself of the local agencies and authorities for Domestic and partner violence, and educate myself and my(age appropriate) loved ones about the methods for safe intervention on behalf of an abused or endangered person.

All change must begin on an individual and community level Violent predators and batterers are out there and they are not going away- our complacency and our unwillingness to think about these"unpleasant things" have been their accomplice for too many years. From serial rapists and murderers to domestic batterers, these people often live among us. They are not the bogeymen of our childhood fairytalesand imaginations, in fact, they are often innocuous and unassuming in appearance, which only serves to aid and abet their predatory habits--They are more likely to be trusted because they blend in.. To see a terrible example of this in action, watch the next episode of dateline's "To catch a Predator" The would- be pedophiles that are nabbed in the midst of trying to seduce underage children for sex, are consistently average- looking men, usually middle Class to upper middle class. many are married, with children of their own, including the men who were trying to seduce very young boys.
This show only proved that predators are manipulative-and very good at playing the part of responsible "normal "people These are traits that are hallmarks of the sociopath persona -a personality disorder that is a common thread in sex criminals and Batterers.

The good news is that with a shift in awareness, we can begin to re-shape our societys attitudes surrounding this issue and we will then see a sharp decline in the violence that seems to be growing upon itself in our suburbs and our cities, in our streets and our living rooms. As the message gets carried forth that any and all violent crime will be treated the most severely no matter the relationship between assailant and victim, that it will result in a dogged pursuit of conviction and a maximum prison sentence, it will soon become more and more of a rarity. And the entire landscape of this country will change. This is my hope anway--Please do your part.

Nov 9, 2008

National Domestic Violence Hotline Desperately Needs Money

On September 30th, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) answered its two millionth call. This milestone represents two million families that have received help and hope since the Hotline’s inception in 1996

Now, the National Domestic Violence Hotline needs our help. It is running out of money at a time when it will be most needed. With weather disasters, economic displacement and the approaching holidays, the Hotline will be challenged more than ever as families cope with mounting financial and emotional strain.

Their goal is to raise $1 million by the end of the year so the Hotline can continue to answer the ever-increasing calls from those in need. Plain and simple, more people will die if there is no one to answer the phones.

The Hotline’s success underscores the importance of helping our friends and neighbors when they are most vulnerable. Domestic violence does not discriminate among its victims. It has devastating consequences for families who endure it and communities that tolerate it.

You’ve seen the recent headlines in the news. Domestic violence and the tragedy it entails can happen to anyone from the Hudson family to your own friends and family.

During 2008, call volume for the Hotline rose by approximately 1,000 more calls each month as a direct result of the country’s worsening financial conditions and the burden this places on family and relationships. At the same time, funding from private sources has been cut dramatically. A staff reduction was implemented in October, but the Hotline will be forced to lay off many of its advocates without immediate emergency funding.

You can help right now. All contributions are tax deductible. Please send contributions to: National Domestic Violence Hotline, P.O. Box 161810, Austin, Texas 78716. or give on-line at

Or for more information, you may contact Ann Dowdy at 800-525-1978.

You can also help by forwarding this Post to friends, family and colleagues. You will be helping people break the cycle of domestic violence to build a more stable and joyful future for themselves and their families.

Nov 5, 2008

Riverside County Cal to pursue extradition trial for Joseph Duncan

It looks like the state of California is trying to extradite Joseph Duncan from Idaho in order to try him for the 1997 assault and murder of little Anthony Martinez. Duncan just began serving 6 life sentences as well as awaiting a death sentence, all of which were bestowed for the crimes he committed against the Groene/Mackenzie family, including the kidnap and murder of 9 year old Dylan Groene in June 2005.

Duncan allegedly confessed to the 1996 murder of Anthony Martinez, as well as two other child murders, all committed while he was on Parole for the aggravated rape of a 14 year old boy.
The Martinez case is historic in that it was actually solved well before Duncan's confession, by of all things, an amateur crime blogger, by the name of Steve huff, who had been closely following the Groene case on his blog.

Huff used the Internet as his primary source for tracking Duncan's whereabouts in relation to various unsolved child murders that had occurred in the same geographic areas that Duncan was known to have been within the proper time frame of those murders. What made this possible at all was the fact that Joesph Duncan was keeping a blog himself in which he recounted many of his travel and vacation activities. This, amid self persecutory rants that were supposed to enlighten society to the sex offenders terrible plight.

There were those in fact that felt thatDuncan was actually using the blog as an alibi measure in case he was "accused" of any child crimes in his area. The problem is that he was in fact guilty of just such crimes and thus, inevitably his online journal helped to place him in several crime scene vicinities; That is, if anyone was compelled to put the information together. Steve huff did just that, and as one of his original readers, I was privy to the entire thing as it unfolded.
It was impressive for a so-called amateur.

Where does all of this leave little Shasta Groene, the now 11 year old lone survivor of a quadruple murder/ kidnapping? She is finally done with the criminal cases connected to those crimes and is reportedly beggining to heal. No easy task considering that she has had to hold on to the horrible memories of the entire experience in case she was needed to testify against the man that had committed such brutality against her and her beloved family.

On Monday, the very last group of charges against Joseph Duncan were adjudicated with a heaping of 4 more life sentences added atop the 3 he already was serving for the first murders of Shasta's mom, step dad and older brother Slade.

According to Police sources, Duncan reportedly also told the then 8 year old Shasta that he killed Anthony Martinez , going so far as to give details of the crime, this while he had shasta in captivity! And thus, she may very well be called to testify in Anthony's murder trial in California next year. Her dad Steve Groene, wants to avoid this at all costs and he has made it very clear that he thinks that a trial for Anthony is unnecessary, in that it is redundant and costly in terms of both money and pain to all the families involved.

The state of California in turn believes that it owes Anthony and his family, a trial whereby his murderer is formally brought to justice for kidnapping assaulting and taking his life.
This is a tough one and I personally feel that the parents of little Anthony should decide
if there is a trial or not. For some people it would be a pointless formality, but for others, the only way that they can feel a sense of closure. Either way, let the family decide.

Nov 4, 2008

Time and Old Wounds: Dr. Petit's Strikes

Below in the italicized text is an article culled from a Blog called "Red Notes from a blue state" written by writer/ columnist Don Pesci.

I particularly identified with the closing statement of Dr Petit's, for indeed so many crime victims feel once again victimized by the very system that is in place to protect and provide justice for them. There is even a name for it now its called legal abuse syndrome.
Perhaps in 2009 Connecticut will address this in a viable, honest fashion.

Time and Old wounds; Dr Petit's "strikes"
There are some wounds time won’t heal. Such is the murder of three members of Dr. William Petit’s household.

The household -- Dr. Petit, his wife and two daughters – was attacked by two career criminals, Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky, both on parole.

A recent news story – “Second look, A Year After Cheshire Home Invasion, William Petit Speaks Up For Tougher Crime Laws” – pithily describes what happened: “On a July night in 2007, intruders clubbed and trussed Petit at his home in Cheshire, the start of an ordeal that ended with the deaths of his wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, and their daughters, Hayley, 17, and 12-year-old Michaela.

“Hawke-Petit and Michaela were raped. The mother was strangled. Both daughters were left bound in their beds, the house doused with gasoline and set afire.”

The scene of the crime has since disappeared. Where before there was a house and a family, now there is nothing. The erasure process, sometimes confused with a healing process, has now begun. It is as if Huns had appeared out of the black night, destroyed a village, burnt it to the ground and sowed the scene of the devastation with salt, so that not even the memory of the village would survive.

Since the commission of the crime, Dr. Petit has given up his practice and devoted himself to a worthy cause: He has become, according to one news story, “an activist now, willing to stand with any candidate who pledges to support a mandatory life sentence on violent three-time felons.”

"I support the Three Strikes Now Coalition and the concept because I feel it's the government's first duty to protect its citizens," Petit said. "I'm not sure we need much government if the government can't protect us."

The two vandals will be prosecuted under Connecticut’s Rube Goldberg-like death penalty process, and by the time justice is finally served, there will be, it may be safely predicted, dozens of “second looks.” Dr. Petit, the sole survivor of the murder of his family, will have miles to go before he sleeps. Ahead of him lies the trial of the two career criminals, a series of appeals, a mandatory sentencing, common in death penalty cases, trial appeals, sentencing hearing appeals, and finally, at the end of a seemingly interminable string of trials, re-trials, hearings, rehearings, appeals and unexpected interventions, Dr. Petit may, if he is not by that time spiritually exhausted, receive an approximation of justice.

We have seen this process in play during the trial and execution of Michael Ross, a legally twisted affair in which a judge philosophically opposed to the death penalty intervened in the case at the last moment and bullied Ross’ lawyer with the suspension of his law license until he agreed to yet another death penalty hearing. Even Ross, by this time, was exhausted: He wanted the death penalty imposed, if only to spare the families of his eight victims further unnecessary emotional suffering.

One of the fathers of the last 14 year-old girl murdered by Ross weathered all the media hoopla, all the trials and hearings, many more than three, and after Ross’ execution was delayed once again by the intervening judge, some solicitous reporter stuck a mic in his face and asked him for his “reaction.”

The face that looked out at the camera was spiritually wasted.

“Everything has been said.”

The dogged reporter asked him again for his reaction, and she was greeted with an exhausted silence.

No one was counting the number of strikes, many more than three, the man had been lashed with.

The Ross trial now has become a distant memory. It will appear in reports during the Hayes and Komisarjevsky trial as a piquant statistic.

"Even now,” Dr Petit said in a recent interview, “you feel like you are being abused. Somebody murders your family in 2007, and they tell you they're going to go to trial in 2010. Wow, what a great system we have."
Posted by Don Pesci at 11:47 PM
Time and Old Wounds: Dr. Petit's Strikes

Mike Lawlor: Soft On Crime

Very good, and timely, article in this week's "headless horseman"