Dec 6, 2012

Connecticut looking at Special Housing law

The Hour Article Re easing Housing rules for convicts

This  issue about trying to assist in providing housing and Jobs for recently released inmates within our States stratosphere is all fine and well but I feel it is putting a band aid on a huge wound that we should be preventing entirely ; In other words, this is directly linked to a much much larger problem; Connecticut court's infamously willy - nilly and never truly addressed, sentencing morass.

 And, as with most broken systems that have been broken for a long long time, one does not have lasting success until that system is rebuilt from the ground up. The ideas that are being bandied about here helping  well intention-ed newly released inmates making a genuine effort to reenter society could be addressed and in fact avoided if we pull our view back a few steps further. ie look at how some of these innocuous "felons" wound up becoming felons with the lifelong tag in the first place.... Especially when we hear the lament from our legislators year after year about our all time high over crowded prisons and  then the inevitable " money saving" Programs that invariably involve our lawmakers letting violent offenders or those perched upon violence, out on early release programs to re offend and harm  again.  
When all is said and done Our state's sentencing practices vary so drastically with factors such as the court demographic, the crime itself and whether the prosecutor handling the "case"understands that it is   the lawyer/ public defender and their relationship with the prosecutor and other factors that all add to terribly ambiguous sentencing which can saddle the wrong people with felony convictions and accordingly they the least dangerous are more often given felony sentences that involve prison time.
The core sentencing issues in Connecticut courts are landing a good portion of these inmates into cells with the heavy moniker felon on them when they are released, often a year or less later.. These people should not be convicted of felonies and should be at the very bottom of our list of so called ofenders especially taking up sparse and crucial prison cells.

People such as this women below quoted within the Hour's article are being unduly thrown into... 

Virginia Downing, 62, of New Haven, said she has had trouble finding affordable housing and a full-time job because of her 1998 felony drug possession conviction that sent her to prison for six months. She has worked as a part-time crossing guard for New Haven schools the past six years. She said she got certified as a nurse's aide in 2006, but her conviction kept her from getting a job in that profession.
"I have fully paid my debt to society," she told a legislative committee earlier this year. "I have not had any criminal involvement in 14 years. It is not reasonable that I should continue to be burdened by collateral consequences."

prison cells for things like repeat petty drug possession/ purchasing offenses and wind up with the albatross seeming felon moniker which yes  then directs them into a "socially unacceptable" populus when released. And Although some are able to transcend the reflex prejudices and doors closing in their face, many do not and this becomes not only an obstacle but a reason to return to drug abuse.with the mindset of once society view me as undesirable I therefore am and " I cannot overcome the stigma of my past"  For many it is the same as the notion of living sober and rebuilding a life after being an addict or alcoholic for years..

And these are not the exception felons folks. People who were caught buying drugs or with drugs on them at traffic stops comprise an inordinately large percentage of Connecticut's Prison populous, so much so that at various times in our past the state was shipping inmates to other states due to prison over crowding. Some Connecticut citties even run month long stings where all they do is arrest small time drug addicts/buyers at a known hot spot inner city sales corner. The Police department meets a nice quota and everyone in the department high fives each other as if they've arrested a band of child killers or rapists. The same is done with prostitution which is obviously also directly linked with drug addiction 

Apparently over the years as the prisons were bursting at the seams literally with prisoners sleeeping in sleeping bags in rooms not designed to hold inmates, Conn lawmakers wer loathe to build another prison or two. We couldnt afford to build another prison  according to our State's official bean counters, the same folks that told us the death penalty was  too financially burdensome and ate up too many resources and thus should be replaced with " life in prison ".

 This newly voted in capital punishment  will in fact guarantee that  every murderer/rapist/child abductor  will never again offer to plead guilty for their crimes in order to avoid a death penalty sentence as Leslie Williams did just two over two years ago. Williams was yet another just released inmate who went on an immediate crime spree stole a car and walked into a house in new Britain where two older ladies just returned from church. Although the women offered Williams anything money jewelry etc, he shot one woman a 65 year old cancer patient in the head leaving her for dead, stole some small things from the house with the homeowners car, he kidnapped the second woman who was missing for almost a day; police discovered her murdered and raped body left in some brush. 

This crime was one of three that took place within a 7 months period after the Petit family murders all committed by either early paroled or recently released repeat offenders including Williams who had sexually assaulted a 5 year old and just been released. I recall one of the legislators actually blaming Connecticut's DOC for simply dumping Williams out of prison after 7 years and expecting him to cope. It literally sounded as if the ownice for a sociopaths brutality was being placed on us the law abiding residents of the state and the fact that we had laws and imposed them even on the diluted scale that plea deals allow! This fanatic liberalism regarding crime and criminals was rampant in the Connecticut legislature in 2008 . It was dangerous then and it has only become worse since a democratic governor somehow wound up in the Governors mansion...ahem. (bear in mind folks I am liberal insofar as much of my political views but  violent crime is an entity that doesn't belong in politics yet it is awash in politics and too many of our legislators are lawyers, and another segment are minority house representatives with their own agendas and classicism racism and all the other isms wind up blinding lawmakers to the uneatable reality of the fact that they our state government is aiding and abetting violent crime inadvertently via these lobbyist pet peeves and projects that seem always to cost the victims blood flesh and bones and our communities a huge toll taken in trauma grief pain fear and anger.

And no matter how impotent our "death penalty" sentence actually was HERE in Connecticut, the mere idea of it was enough to a keep some people from murdering (we don't hear from those people within polls that query' did the fact that you might get the DP deter you from murdering and raping ...?"  And lawyers have insisted their clients claim it never occurred to them " therefore proving that ta death penalty isn't a deterrent...see!?

Since the men these lawyers are asking have already committed capital murder this immediately negates the concept of a control group to put such a ludicrous claim to the test.

Why does any of this matter ? Because without a death penalty and life with the chance of  parole being the second worse alternative sentence for someone who has committed Now these killers will all be going to trial and  some lawyers will manage to convince a jury to give multiple murderer rapists et all "life with the chance of parole"   An oxymoron to be certain.

With parole even a possibility no matter how remote, any capital murderer's lawyer is going to proceed to trial. No more offers to plead guilty to anything! 

Those trials will cost the state millions then billions  utterly trashing the entire so called monetary savings that our state is supposed to make by abolishing the death penalty. Budget deficits were actually cited as one of the original reasons the judiciary committee came up with the abolishment IDEA-AGAIN. I
It should be noted that Conn has a history for 20 years of voting for Republican governors despite a largely democratic legislature, and the balance seemed to work well for us as a state as we have traditionally had a largely democratic legislature. When Malloy narrowly "won" the governors seat needless to say all things criminal judicial became even  more  focused upon the criminal as opposed to the victims of crimes as well as preventing more victims with smarter sentencing batter lawmaking and an oversight committee that is a completely separate agency from the state government.

 For example within the death penalty abolishment public hearings we heard a lot of testimony about the expensive appeals processes which Connecticut lawmakers built into our former DP in effect rendering it  impotent and costly, The pro repealists claimed that the appeals only re traumatize the families of the murder victims among other things. 

Some of those other issues revolved around moral and or religious postures and or belief systems that many lawmakers lawyers themselves claim they had about the death penalty.  Other reasoning were such claims as "abolishment is inevitable anyway, all of the New England States are abolishing.....! "  

This idiotic reasoning as if it saying it was the latest and" in thing to do" came from then co chair judiciary committee Mike Lawlor, who was most unfortunately for victims of crime, an overtly influential legislator always ready at the gate to orate to the media and empathize with those who predate and brutalize while doing little to nothing for victims of crime helping rebuild their lives.Not to mention the many many ineffective or  non existent  victims  reintegration  programs. 

And yet between our courts and our dept of corrections  they decry a lack of space for violent offenders or the many offenders clearly on the road to burgeoning violent offenses ie crimes that have proven time and again to lead to escalating crimes such as sexual assault felony assault kidnapping and murder.
In a word, Connecticut's criminal sentencing is an arbitrarily doled out mess.

We need serious oversight and revamping from the ground up. The employees who are not willing to get aboard, should get off the bus. Lives are at stake, and egos cronyism and complacency should no longer be tolerated by the people of this state nor our legislators many of whom although lawmakers are lawyers themselves, to me an inherent part of the problem. Zero objectivity and self serving lawmaking and sentencing decisions.  Many in our house of Reps that aren't practicing lawyers in the state have no idea the true unrealistic application of many of the laws that they do vote into law nor the negative fall out that will be a direct result of that vote they just cast.