This article about a chronic sex offender that was recently released from prison is a perfect example of why a strict persistent offender law is desperately needed in this state.
While some members of The Connecticut judiciary committee would have us believe that Connecticut has a persistent offender law, from a practical standpoint it is not being utilized and therefore it is not legitimate.
The offender cited within this article, despite having shown himself to be a dangerous sexual predator, was given chance upon chance upon chance by Connecticuts court system -- Not only did "RE-OFFEND" as it appears on paper, but as is the inherent danger of such ill conceived "chances" he went on to assault a multitude of new victims after each and every release- And these are the ones we know about thus far: Experience has shown law enforcement that for each rape or murder a predator is caught committing, there are usually several others that he/she has not been caught for and may VERY WELL never be.
Some Connecticut legislators believe that a re-entry program for sex offenders is the answer, the missing link if you will,to our ever- burgeoning "recidivism problem"---- I cant help but wonder if either they or thier loved ones were to be the next victim of just such a chronic offender, if they'd still feel that a program of this sort was the answer or enforcement of the maximum sentence allowed by law for this or any violent crime?
I don't know if the attitude that permeates our legislative body can be explained simply by the old liberal knee jerk response to most social ails, including crime, whereby they would seem to believe is a direct result of the age old disparity of income and education between the haves and the have nots
This upper middle class guilt syndrome seems even more accentuated when it comes to issues like crime and punishment... or "rehabilataion" as they would have it
It seems that the whole issue of crime would seem to pluck at some innate guilt strings that the "privileged" or educated, assume (The best part of all of this is that I am in fact a registered democrat, but insofar as the issue of crime I part ways drastically with my left compatriots. Of course the basic premise behind this often includes the naive notion that all evil acts can be explained by poverty, abusive childhoods, neglect, uncaring society, racism, etc etc etc.
Unfortunately reality is simply not nearly so facile; There are are a fair percentage of sociopaths that find themselves incarcerated in our Connecticut jails and prisons and no matter what is done to "help "them, they are going to hurt others again and again given the chance.
And with each crime that they commit, any last vestiges of conscience that they might have once possessed-are quickly abandoned. And it is often the weakest of our citizens that suffer again and again at their hands Children, women, the elderly.
It is long overdue for the state and its people to collectively address the life and death issue of crime and justice. And like any other restructuring project we must start with basic awareness and education; Many people feel that they don't know enough about the issue to affect a change; They simply don't know where to begin and though they might have the best of intentions as well the desire to see productive change in our judicial system, they haven't a clue how to go about it-and thus regrettably, they do nothing.
But they don't feel good about it.
The good news is that its never too late to learn about the machinations of our state legislature-How laws are created and put into effect is something that a lot of otherwise intelligent people are surprisingly ignorant about. unfortunately with the amount of corruption in our states political history it is easy to understand why so many people become complacent about all matters politica; especially on the state level-
With a small investment of time and energy one can easily learn all there is to know about state government and the judiciary. Once we understand how the process is supposed to work then we can explore how it really works and therein usually lies most of our State's problems. In theory our justice system works well, but watch the daily dockets of our cities busiest courts and youll see another story;
The Next step might be organizing like minded neighbors friends family usimg the collective will of the people as a vehicle for change. Like minded needn't equate with sharing the same political views; The issue of crime and public safety should transcend political parties; We all want our families and loved ones to be safe- This is a universal desire and indeed a right, and to that end we must direct our efforts.
Our state legislators are voted in; ASSEMBLYMEN Selectman and Senators, If you don't like the way that your town or city's Representative has voted on bills concerning crime, do not vote for that person in the next election-simple- right?
All sessions ( meetings ) of the Connecticut General Assembly both regular and special sessions-are currently televised on Connecticut's own cable channel - As such, its now possible to keep track of our town and city reps and senators in real time.
Watch the next legislative session, find out what your assemblyman's history has been regarding his/her votes on all bills pertaining to crime, The voting records for all members of the house and the senate can be found online at the State of Connecticut General Assembly website, usually posted within 48 hrs of a given vote. While this is useful information, it doesnt substitute for watching the sessions as they unfold on tv, as well as the subsequent votes; You'll get a much better picture of which legislators are influential which ones dont know what they're doing and who stands where and why. Once you understand the process of lawmaking, you will undoubtedly want to be more involved; Historically organized Citizen action groups have been largely responsible for the advent of a great deal of important new crime legislation such as Megans law, Jessisca's law, and the original california based Three strikes law-several of these laws began as grassroots efforts by family and friends of murdered children. The key is to learn from the past; We dont have to wait until a brutal crime occurs to take action;
the proposed three strikes legislation in Connecticut was a classic example of this. Unfortunately the bill was voted down by Connecticuts largely democratic house of represntatives last year, however several republican legislators have vowed to pick up the baton and reintroduce it in this years session. The more public involvemnt with such bills the more likely they are to become laws.
Do not accept mere lip service from your towns reps re thier stance on crime; many of our current legislators HAVE claimed to be "tough on crime" when they were running for office or re-election, when in reality time after time they voted against bills that would keep violent offenders in prison for longer amounts of time, or they squash these bills before the bill can even make it to the floor for a vote.
Last year in the wake of the Petit FAMILY murders in Cheshire,our Ct Judiciary committee saw fit to pass a bill to abolish the Death Penalty. Despite a public poll that showed a clear pro death penalty choice by Connecticuts residents, The bill managed to narrowly pass muster in both the house and the Senate. If not for Governor Rell's courageous veto of that bill, the death penalty would no longer be viable in the state of Connecticut; In its place, life in prison with no parole would become Connecticut's idea of capital punishment. Most Ct citizens dont realize just how close we came to a criminal/judicial crisis via this proposed Bill.
The reasoning given for the abolishment bill was money. The whole country was in economic crisis as was the state and our judiciary committe thoughtfully came up with the ingenious idea that The state could save lots of money by abolishing the death penalty because built into the states death penalty is an unwieldy automatic appeals process which is extremely time consumptive and costly to the state. (Never mind fixing the problem, lets just eradicate the entire issue. )
There are virtually no limits as to the amount of appeals a death row inmate can file with the courts, thereby creating a virtual endless supply of administrative delays to any actual execution, which by the way, have been so scarce in Connecticut that the last man put to death had to literally sue the state to do so. But thats another story for another day....