Dec 15, 2009

Lawmakers to hold special session in Hartford

Lets all pay careful attention to whether this upcoming special session effects funding for victim services as well as prison sentences in this state.
There was recently some clandestine legislation snuck through the house (piggy backed onto another bill ) which somehow flew completely below the local press radar-- and The legislation allows for early release "furlough "programs for selected Connecticut inmates- including inmates convicted of so called "lesser" violent crimes; crimes. like assault in the third degree, which on its face may appear to be low level, but when one considers that this charge is only what the person in question wound up convicted of. not not what he/ she was actually charged with and more importantly, committed, then releasing such inmates early becomes a slippery slope indeed. Someone in the general public is now in danger of becoming the "next victim" of this prematurely sprung criminal. Never mind the message that it sends to those who would prey upon others-- Isn't this exactly what happened with the men that committed the Petit family murders in Cheshire? The only difference is semantics - in 2007, the year those terrible crimes happened, the program in question was called "early release program"; it was designed to reduce prison overcrowding and you got it- save money for the state.
The program was halted soon after the Petit murders which brought attention to the dangers inherent with such practices.
Now the state is calling it "early release "furlough": which is in fact a misnomer, as furlough implies a return to the institution at some point in time and as you will note with this program there is no return just a one way ticket out.

After being told that he was being given early release parole in the spring of 2007, Steven hayes, co defendant in the Petit murders, was reportedly incredulous and admitted to friends that he "couldn't believe they were letting him out... but he sure as hell wasn't about to argue with them- ha ha ha. "

Ha ha indeed. As we all know, Hayes, a chronic felon of epic proportions, was given his early release, and he was not shoved out of the prison doors into the "real world" left "hanging" as many members of the Ct legislature would have us believe is the norm and indeed at the root of the states high recidivism rates with newly released prisoners. To which I say- nonsense.

Mr Hayes was helped by the state in obtaining decent paying full time work- incidently fulltime work was a requirement of his parole.

The state further ensured that he had somewhere to live when he left prison, and somewhere that was safe-In his case his mother reportedly gave him yet another chance to start his life again crime free. He was loaned a truck by family members to use for transportation to work and recreation- the latter as it fell within the parameters of his parole agreement which typically requires some kind of curfew and disallows parolees from paling around with other known felons, particularly newly paroled ones when the potential for newly formed criminal alliances is at its greatest. He had counseling available to him in order to help him with the re-adjustment of life from prison to the "normal" lawful workaday world.

But despite all of these tools, assists and opportunities, Steven Hayes chose not to play by the rules like the rest of us and work hard at a job, eventually making more money as experience and time at the job accrued. He chose not to take advantage of the many many fresh starts he was given despite a terrible track record both in and out of prison. Mr Hayes did not want to work for his money-he desired the quick easy money that he could get by robbing others.

And thanks to the states decision to send mr hayes and thousands of other imates to halfway houses after less than a third of already cut short sentences, he now made a new friend with a similar criminal mindset. That friend... johua komisarjevsky.
The two meshed perfectly and no one either in the halfway house or on the outside either family ir friends, discouraged the ill fated union despite the obvious potential for trouble.

Komisarjevsky happen to live in an affluent town among trusting folks that often left their doors unlocked, despite having so much to lose afact that he was quick to share with hayes, a reputed thief of admittedly smaller proportions; supposedly most of hayes smash and grab larcenies were committed to support a crack cocaine habit.
Komisarjevsky was a different species well known by local police since the age of 14, he'd spent his relatively young life setting abandoned buildings on fire and stalking young girls. As he grew older he graduated to perfecting "skills" like advanced breaking and entering a favorite of his was committing break ins while the homeowners were home sleeping in thier beds. He bragged to friends and police that if no-one was home during the robberies it was too boring. This was a missed red flag of grave consequence. There would be many others over the next 14 years or so.

No sooner was komisarjevsky's ankle tracking bracelet removed, then The pair began robbing the nice homes that peppered the well kept streets surrounding komisarjevskys modest childhood home where he still lived with his now elderly parents and his 3 year old daughter borne to an underage girl of 15 (Another red flag missed)

The two men robbed from others who had worked hard for those lovely homes, people who had put the endless hours days and years into a life that perhaps just now was finally beginning to yield the fruits of that sacrifice and labor.
Hayes and komisarjevsky could care less about other peoples hard work- they only saw that others had what they desired and indeed what they believed they deserved. They werent suckers like these people- they didn't have to earn these things- they could simply take them. No matter who paid for it.

And On july 23 2007 At approx 3 am the two broke into The home of Dr William Petit and his wife and 2 daughters, komisarjevsky had spotted Jennifer Petit and her 11 year old daughter Michaela while they were shopping at an area stop and shop earlier that same evening. With a sick plan already hatching in his mind he furtively followed the unsuspecting pair back to thier home.

After sharing his plan with hayes the men purchased an airgun at walmart cutting off its orange tip in order to make it appear more deadly. They brought rope and zipties in order to restrain Mrs Petit and the girls who they planned on sexually assaulting.

By 10 am Jennifer hawke Petit and her two daughters Hayley and Michaela would be murdered. At least two of them would be sexually assaulted and one of them beaten. Dr Petit the lone survivor would be near death from blood loss inflicted by repeated blows of a basball bat-and a town and a state would be mired in shock and grief . The anger would follow.

In the state of Connecticut approxamtely 97% of our criminal cases are disposed of with plea deals This means that there is no trial for these cases. There is instead a deal made between the lawyer for the defendant and the prosecutor assigned to that case; the majority of these deals made in the back rooms and hallways of the courthouse. Many prosecutors are inundated with full daily dockets and to save time and money theyll usually hammer out a deal after a series of monthly hearings, that are really little more than perfuctury protocol.

These plea deals result in lowered charges for the defendant in exchange for a guilty plea to usually substantially lowered charges; This means that charges that are quite serious like violent felonies such as assault in the second degree, winding up through a deal as assault in the third degree or even less ( assault 3 is only a misdemeanor). Or, sexual assault in the third degree involving a child could easily wind up as risk of injury to a minor. And This is assuming the police did thier work well and wrote up a good warrant did not violate any of the defendents rights and that case is relatively strong-- If not the charge (S) may be dismissed outright for " lack of evidence." or any number of other reasons.

Another daily standard practice in our Connecticut courts is the dropping of charges entirely within cases that have multiple charges- ie A defendant might have committed 4 serious charges, yet via the plea deal hell walk away with a conviction" for maybe two of those charges, and remember those charges will usually be lowered charges, at that.

This is all done in the name of judicial compromise mostly for expedience sake. And this doesn't happen in one hearing mind you, the average time frame for the ultimate resolution of a criminal case here in Connecticut is 6 -9 months. The norm is a hearing on the case transpires approx once a month, and it is "continued" until the next court date. This is a means of clearing the docket for the day and in effect procrastinating for the prosecutor and bulking up the defendants bill for the attorneys- lawyers are paid by time and court appearances are billed higher thus each time a hearing is "continued "he/she must show up with his client in front of the judge and the prosecutor, who has usually been talking with the lawyer behind closed doors or on the phone re the case and the general facts involved, announces to the judge that the defense is asking for a continuance while they sort out the facts of the case.

Pretty much Without fail the judge usually gives the prosecutor whatever they re asking for insofar as time and the same with any deal that the prosecutor eventually presents to the judge. Once in a while youll get a tough judge who will override prosecutors, and refuse plea deals that seem too liberal, espcieally for violent crime such as domestic violence and crimes against children.

While this might be acceptable for motor vehicle charges and non- violent drug charges and the like, it is another story altogether when extended to those who commit violent felony's., remember it takes alot to be charged with a violent felony in the first place-For example In the instance of assault two one must severely injure another human being in order for police to charge someone with this crime.

This charge would not result from your typical bar fight nor even your "average" domestic violence incident where someone has struck another person with a fist-these acts would in all liklihood result in an assault 3 charge. which is a misdemeanor- And then accordingly plead down from there to either nothing in a "Nollie," or Accelerated rehabilitation-a ct program for first time offenders which erases the criminal record after a year of compliance. The worst case scenario would be that this offender might receive a lesser charge in a plea deal something like reckless endangerment, that is if they have been convicted in the past of another violent crime.

One can easily see that our states court system already affords too many chances to someone who has committed violent crime, the last thing we need was new legislation that in effect gives some of these criminals a get out of jail early card.

Lets Keep a sharp eye on the states legislators within this upcoming session, and every session for that matter. All sessions are now televised on the local Connecticut cable channel. Watch listen and most importantly-vote accordingly when these people come up for reelection. We must be vigilant in letting our lawmakers know that it is no longer acceptable to treat any violent crime cavalierly. Our lives may someday depend on it.

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