Protection Under the Dome: Is Your State Capitol a Safe Place? 


It’s a “sign of the times” so they say…being cautious and proactive against future violence.  After 9-11 in our neighboring state of New York and the horrible massacre in Newtown, CT in 2012, you would think that we would have caught up with other states. However, it appears that public buildings for the public’s use and enjoyment was a primary reason against installing metal detectors at our historic and palatial looking State Capitol  (constructed between 1872 and 1879). But perhaps, “the public’s right to enter’” should be safeguarded as much as possible in 2015.

“For decades, legislators in Connecticut resisted recommendations by police to add metal detectors as a permanent feature at the Capitol and Legislative Office Building.”

A little history regarding the registered historic landmark: the Connecticut State Capitol 

The Capitol was opened in 1878 and stands in the picturesque setting of Bushnell Park. (Construction 1872 -1879). Designed by Richard M. Upjohn, a cathedral architect, this High Victorian Gothic style statehouse was designated a Registered National Historic Landmark in 1971 and underwent a restoration between 1979 and 1989.The exterior marble from East Canaan, Connecticut and granite from Westerly, Rhode Island is accented by a gold leaf dome. The interior floors of the Capitol are inlaid with white marble and red slate from Connecticut and colored marble from Italy. The stenciling, stained-glass windows and light fixtures were designed by Boston interior decorator William James McPherson.  This beautiful and unique building houses the executive offices and legislative chambers of the state, as well as historical memorabilia including statues of Nathan Hale, “The Genius of Connecticut” and Governor William Buckingham.

How Does Your State Stack Up with Security?

According to a 2007 survey in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. All three have metal detectors, as do Pennsylvania and New Jersey. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, there are metal detectors installed at 23 state Capitols, in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.    All three have metal detectors, as do Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Some State Capitols screen all visitors with the metal detectors, while others such as California exempt state employees and legislators.

According to a CT article, during Governor Malloy’s second inaugural address at the beginning of the legislative session on January 6, 2015, “every Capitol Police officer and security technician was on duty.” No incidents were reported.

In Connecticut, some state employees and all legislators are exempted from screening by the metal detectors.  Rather, they may use their badges to get through the turnstiles or vestibules to get into the building. (Hmmm! Who are the exempted employees and why? Suppose they did this at airports?)

In terms of overall traffic, legislators, staff, and the nearly 150,000 annual visitors  including   more than 25,000 school children visit the State Capitol Complex and our beautiful  “over the top” cherry wood and marble Legislative Office Building.

Since 1999, upgrades have included: installation of cameras and video equipment, a card access system, increase in staffing of capitol state police, implementing a security technician program, installing garage gate arm access and emergency call boxes, implementing an emergency warden program, (i.e. emergency management building personnel knowledgeable about proper procedures),  mandatory staff  intruder drill training and workplace violence training.

It all sounds impressive BUT… in February 6, 2002 it all went wrong! According to a Hartford Courant article, a report with the following information was issued to legislative leaders, but not to the public! ‘Too embarrassing! I was just into my third year as a state employee when this occurred….

  • Police swarmed the state Capitol complex in response to a report of a gunman on a roof;
  • Some employees of the Legislative Office Building weren’t notified the building was being evacuated, and no one made use of a public address system to direct the hundreds of people who were “locked down” inside the Capitol;
  • “Several lapses” in the police response were described as “an uneven enforcement of the lockdown and a lack of communication between police and legislative leaders and staff.”
  • Hundreds of people were evacuated from the Legislative Office Building and detained in the adjacent Capitol in the hours after the legislative session opened Feb. 6th. *** Two women told police they saw a machine-gun toting man on the roof of the office building’s garage.
  • THE TRUTH – It was a videographer with a hand-held camera.   But, it might have been just as they described!
  • Capitol police admitted that an evacuation at the Capitol complex had “not been tried or practiced before,”
  • Joint training sessions were needed to familiarize state and local police with the government complex. A “lack of communication” between all parties could have been eliminated if only they would have made use of use of public address systems, e-mails and a formal chain of contact.
  • Additional problems included:  insufficient radio communication between the police, a SWAT team, armed military police and the “Trooper One” helicopter, which hovered overhead.
  • The primary concerns expressed by employees centered around the evacuation and lockdown procedures…. Workers in the office building library and maintenance workers in the basement were not notified by police that the building was being evacuated. During the Capitol lockdown, when all doors should have been secured some people were seen exiting and leaving the grounds, potentially in the line of fire of a “potential sniper.”
  • Interestingly, as reported by the Hartford Courant, “a search of the garage turned up evidence that police initially thought could be connected to the reported gunman — a “ski-mask type hat” and three vehicles that they considered suspicious. But by 6:30 p.m., the garage was deemed safe. A half-hour later, an attorney contacted state police on behalf of the rooftop cameraman, suggesting a misidentification had occurred.   (What??  An attorney was representing the cameraman in 30 minutes?? LOL How convenient for him!)
  • Children in the on-site day care center for children of state employees remained safe. However, an upgraded phone system with a message light for emergency calls was recommended.
  • To this day, I can attest to any public meeting in the LOB, “a script” concerning emerge procedures is always read at the outset.  And…. To this day, I believe that no one is allowed to park or have access to the upper floor of the LOB garage!

January 10, 2010, in Austin Texas:

  • Twenty–four year old Fausto Cardenas, was identified as the shooter after firing several shots from a small-caliber handgun on the Capitol steps.
  • Although beginning in 2009, visitors to the House and Senate galleries were asked to pass through metal detectors outside the third-floor galleries to watch legislative action in those chambers nothing had been done to secure the entrances to the Capitol.
  • Governor Rick Perry had received endorsements from the National Rifle Association and the Texas State Rifle Association. His response was: “I’m always up for looking at new ways to protect our citizens, but the last thing I want is for the Texas Capitol to turn into DFW Airport.” (So what else is new??)
  • Another incident “may have forced the hand that fed Governor Perry” when in May 2010, another man was arrested for dropping an eight-inch knife on the floor during a committee meeting.
  • According to,”Home of the Black Rifle,” as of their post on Friday, May 21, 2010,  Tourists entering the Texas Capitol during the start of the new security procedures thought “metal detectors were a good idea ***until they found out people with concealed handgun permits are not required to surrender their firearms at the door.
  • “People with licenses still can carry guns in the building, so what’s the point? Why are you putting up metal detectors, some people inquired. Just before noon, perhaps only one in 20 people entering the building through the south entrance had to go through the metal detectors. A special line was set up for school groups, people with concealed handgun permits and people with state-issued building passes. A computer is set up for troopers to check the status of handgun permits.”

Does this make any sense to you?  I say, no guns, period in the Capitol except for law enforcement.

Definition- Conceal and Carry law –

Concealed carry or carrying a concealed weapon (CCW) is the practice of carrying a weapon (such as a handgun) in public in a concealed manner, either on one’s person or in close proximity. Not all weapons that fall under CCW controls are lethal. For example, in Florida, carrying pepper spray in more than a specified volume (2 oz.) of chemical requires a CCW permit. Whereas, anyone may legally carry a smaller, so-called, “self-defense chemical spray” device hidden on their person without a CCW permit.

Texas Requirements Conceal- Carry Weapons:

  • The Concealed Handgun Law sets out the eligibility criteria that must be met. Applicants must be at least 21 years of age (unless active duty military) and must meet Federal qualifications to purchase a handgun.  A number of factors may make you ineligible to obtain a license, such as: felony convictions and some misdemeanor convictions, including charges that resulted in probation or deferred adjudication; pending criminal charges; chemical or alcohol dependency; certain types of psychological diagnoses protective or restraining orders, and defaults on state or city taxes, governmental fees, or child support.  Eligibility requirements can be found in GC §411.172.You must also submit a completed application, pay the required fees and submit all of the required supplemental forms and materials.


I suppose we all have our preferences as to what makes us feel most secure based upon our culture, upbringing and experience. However, can we not draw the line and hand over the guns when it comes to our public places of assembly, learning, law making and human civility?

Although we know that humans are not at all civil when it comes to the use of violent crime as a means to “settle differences,” I prefer to think that “a gun in your pocket,” particularly in public places designed for our citizenry to come together as one, is not the path for “the ordinary citizen”, not at all.



Shattered Lives Radio Turns Three


I have been pressed for time (and stressed for time) in the past several weeks and not able to properly reflect on a milestone that means a lot to me.

As of February 8th or so I am celebrating the three-year anniversary of continuous weekly live broadcasts on SHATTERED LIVES RADIO!

If someone ever asks “when I’m gone to the great beyond,” What was one of the coolest, most rewarding, educational (and often frustrating and time-consuming endeavors) I have ever done?  Shattered Lives Radio would be high on the list!

The “people part” and the opportunity for new learning and creating awareness for the masses  have been the greatest joys. Meeting and making so many wonderful new friends and colleagues is the most empowering experience one can have! To be surrounded by so many who give unselfishly in their own humanitarian ways for the benefit of those touched and often pounded by violent crime, has forever changed me!  Both individuals and non-profits, family members of crime victims, service providers,  law enforcement, investigators and others helped to create a beautiful tapestry of LIVE and archived shows to be  proud of.

I have had my share of “firsts” from the perspective of the aftermath of crime in many topic areas such as homicide caused by impaired diabetic drivers,  frank discussion regarding suicide, hostage negotiation, human trafficking,  broadcasting live from the Henry C. Lee Forensics Institute of Science, participating in  an exciting cross-country cold case “mystery tour” upcoming with Sheryl McCollum and a fantastic true crime author series sponsored by WildBlue Press just to name a select few!

And to think the idea of this show was “hatched on a cruise ship” with the able assistance of former PI and author, Denny Griffin! The concept of dealing with the aftermath of crime is still fresh, people want it and need it in their own time, even if they don’t always listen live. The shows are there to be of assistance forever!

Susan Murphy Milano played a huge role in getting this endeavor off the ground too!  And, my co-host Delilah Jones of ImaginePublicity, has been there for me teaching, guiding and supporting me during the ups and downs, fun and somber moments, and the triumphs!  Thank you my dear friends, “the special three” mentors  who gave me so much, (as well as my wonderful guests) and continue to do so!

To borrow a phrase from the esteemed Walter Cronkite, I will do my best to re-construct a  roster below so that you may enjoy them again , for that’s the way it was!

Shattered Lives Radio past guests and topics:

  • Melissa Siegal, Teen Dating Violence;
  • Yuli Garza –   MAG- Mothers-Men Against Gangs;
  • Dr. Dalal Akoury – Crime and your health;
  • Elmire Raven – IPV- My Sister’s House;
  • John Pace –Former Male Madam –  Human Trafficker;
  • Marilyn Gambrell – No More Victims;
  • Pamela Ressler, R.N. Stress Resources & Using Social Media to Heal;
  • Bob Rahn & Kim Anklin, PI’s with Attorneys- Wrongful Conviction – The Case of Jonathan Fleming;
  • Prosecutor David LaBahn – Gang Related Convictions;
  • Ryan Ulbrich –  CT Cold Case of Leah Ulbrich, his mother;
  • Jamie Isaacs – Author, Presenter, Victim of Bullying;
  • Bob Rahn & Kim Anklin, PI’s- Wrongful Conviction – The Case of Jonathan Fleming;
  • Karen Beaudin – Missing Persons, Homicide Survivor, Author;
  • Bill Jenkins – Survivors of Crime & Gun Control;
  • Mary Drexler- CT Council on Problem Gambling;
  • Michael Smith- Survivor – Killing via Diabetic Impaired Driving;
  • Christine & Dan  Nascimento,   Cutting Edge , Healthy , All Organic Hair Salon “Modern Edge”
  • Derek Gault & Sandy Hein – Hostage Negotiation;
  •  Police Chief Larry Reinhart –  Family Victim of IPV;
  • Amy Santagata & Duane Bowers – Suicide;
  • Marcus “Strider” Dent, Commander of Baltimore Guardian Angels;
  • Jessalyn Dorsey – Crime Victim Advocacy  Council– Atlanta;
  • California DA Nancy O’Malley – Crime Victim Rights;
  • Trina Murphy-    Survivor of Missing & Murdered Sister;
  •  Police Chief Marty Sumner – IPV Offender Focused Deterrence Program;
  • PI Denny Griffin – The Patrick Rust Case;
  • ***Planning for the CUE Center On the Road to Remember Tour – No Shows in September-beginning of October
  • Police Chief Marty Sumner – IPV Offender Focused Deterrence Program Part Two;
  • Sheryl McCollum- The Cold Case Investigative Research Institute; (CCIRI)
  • Dr. Tina, Maschi –  The Plight of Elderly Prisoners;
  • DA Nancy O’Malley With Co-Host Attorney-Advocate Michelle S. Cruz – Victim Impact;
  • “Krush”  Victoria Kent -Baltimore Guardian Angel & IPV Victim;
  • S. Daniel Carter- Director of the 32 National Campus Safety Initiative (32 NCSI) for the VTV Family Outreach Foundation;
  • Sheryl McCollum – Part Two- Unveiling their Upcoming Cross Country Cold Case Tour (CCIRI);
  • F. Mark Granato – CT Author –  Book – “The Day Hartford Hospital Burned” et al;
  • Prosecutor, Tad DiBiase – Prosecution of “No Body” Cases;
  • Author Steve Jackson – WildBlue Press &  his Book – “Bogeyman”;
  • Author. Kevin Sullivan – WildBlue Press & his Book “Vampire” (Serial Killer)
  • Author John Ferak – WildBlue Press and his Book – “Dixie’s Last Stand – IPV;
  • Author Burl Barer – WildBlue Press & his Book “Man Overboard – The Counterfeit Resurrection of Phil Champagne

“And so it goes” (in the words of journalist Linda Ellerbee). I will continue the fine work on Shattered Lives Radio, as long as it makes sense to do so, and as long as there is more aftermath of crime to discuss!


Shattered Lives Radio Turns Three


Anything But A Comedy of Errors – The Ordeal of Joan River’s Death!


1965 Joan Rivers

1965 Joan Rivers
*photo NY Daily News

Even for “tinsel town” standards, the passing of larger than life, workaholic comic, Joan Rivers left no one with a final off color joke, (as she undoubtedly would have preferred.) Rather, those who know her best and her fans spanning six decades are left with nothing but shock, disbelief and horror.

Why is this topic intriguing to me? Well, I also spent years “under the knife,” largely for surgeries on my vocal cords for a medical condition known as juvenile papilloma of the larynx. In addition, I was a clinical speech –language pathologist, and a voice therapy patient. I am a product of the traditional medical system that says, “Do no harm.”

However, whether you loved or hated Joan, for her oft-times caustic, “in your face” attitude, superficial cosmetic persona, trying desperately to look ever younger and appeal to the masses as a respected actress as well, this was a terrible “perfect storm” in the making!  My respect and knowledge of the true person called Joan increased after watching the PBS American Masters film, “Joan Rivers, A Piece of Work.” It speaks of her evolution as an entertainer…but much more than that,  it illustrates her humanity, her fierce drive, insecurities  and the considerable good she did for many others- doling out checks to others quietly, holding an annual Thanksgiving dinner for singles she knew (I really like that!).

She felt she had to keep working, she had responsibilities and truly was a “Master of re-invention” –or at least tried to be so!  There was the darkest chapter in her life too… the suicide of her life partner, husband Edgar, who was not the best manager or producer. Joan “was the real brains” and still supported him. You should watch the entire film on your local PBS channel:  (This link contains vignettes.)

This case remains shrouded in mystery and involves medical negligence, questionable management practices, “doctors acting like star struck teenagers” lies, half-truths, journalistic Hollywood sensationalism and failures on so many levels it is impossible to fathom!  Hopefully the final truths will be revealed during the course of a civil suit brought by her daughter Melissa.  Yes, she is a grieving daughter and a product of stardom herself. However, her motives appear to be sincere in that by bringing this suit, she is also watching out for “the greater good of humanity” such that this ill-equipped day-surgery facility will never operate in the manner it once did!

Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers

In later years…with the exception of Donald Trump’s reality show, “Celebrity Apprentice”, which Joan won a couple of seasons ago, as a Master strategist (and a cameo this season); public memories are in large part “fluffy”. You remember the endless nasty analyses of stars’ appearances- clothing/makeup choices on the red carpet, and a very successful QVC jewelry line. Oh yes…and wherever she could find a stand up gig – even in Podunk USA, she did it – to the extent of groveling! She didn’t care. (Does anyone remember her radio show on WOR in New York? That’s when I really enjoyed her!)

Let us not sink to the level in the rag reporting of TMZ as reliable. However, the most detail has been offered by the respected New York Times as well as the New York Daily News used as primary references here.

A Synopsis of Events:

  • The night before she went into cardiac arrest, Ms. Rivers performed at a cabaret in Manhattan’s theater district. Then she joined an old friend and collaborator, Jay Redack, for a few bites of salmon and her usual glass of white wine with ice at an Upper East Side bistro. She told him she was “going in for a little procedure” the next morning.
  • Joan enters   Yorkville Endoscopy on East 93rd Street   on August 28th and “something goes wrong”
  • The clinic had performed 18,000 procedures since it opened in February 2013. The State of New York had no record of complaints against the facility. Such facilities all over the country are for profit “outpatient surgery centers, which have been licensed by the state to replace hospital operating rooms for minor procedures.”
  • Joan complaining of a hoarse voice, a sore throat and strained vocal cords which could have been caused by for acid reflux, which could have affected her voice, BUT “the procedure” was never clear prior to “the intervention”
  • In addition to the endoscopy, performed by the clinic’s medical director, Dr. Lawrence B. Cohen, Dr. Korovin performed the laryngoscopy on Ms. Rivers, even though she was not authorized to practice at the clinic. (Dr. Cohen has since resigned as the clinic’s medical director.)
  • Contradicting reports are that  either the Medical Director, Dr. Cohen or her “Visiting” ENT physician Dr. Korovin had used a smart phone to snap a selfie while Ms. Rivers was under anesthesia, telling someone in the room that Ms. Rivers “will think this is funny.”

Official Cause of Death-

  • The medical examiner said the cause of Ms. Rivers’ death, on Sept. 4, was brain damage caused by low blood oxygen,  known as  anoxic encephalopathy due to “hypoxic arrest.” She stopped breathing during a laryngoscopy (i.e. -an examination of her voice box and vocal cords), and an endoscopy, (i.e. looking at her upper digestive system and is performed under anesthesia, the report said.) The report did not cite medical error as a cause of death, but left open the possibility of malpractice.
  • The procedures were performed under sedation with Propofol, according to the medical examiner. Propofol, which was implicated in Michael Jackson’s death, is an anesthetic known for having a small margin of error between sedation and respiratory arrest.
  • Comments by other physicians reviewing her autopsy – “This woman had brain death before the medics arrived,” When Ms. Rivers stopped breathing, either the anesthesiologist, the ear, nose and throat specialist in the room, Dr. Gwen Korovin, should have been capable of putting in a breathing tube or doing an emergency tracheotomy to allow her to breathe.” “But she said the death was probably a result of more than one factor. “It’s not easy to kill a patient,” she said. “It takes several errors.” (Dr. Jamie Koufman, an ear, nose and throat specialist in New York City)
  • The report also said that Ms. Rivers’ body weight was never recorded, as is required to determine the proper dose of anesthesia. Dr. Korovin went first and tried to perform a laryngoscopy, to look at Ms. Rivers’ voice box. But the procedure “was aborted because the E.N.T. surgeon stated she could not see very well what she was trying to view.”
  • Reportedly, Dr. Cohen then took his turn, performing an upper endoscopy, a procedure in which a tiny camera is used to look at the digestive system. When he finished at 9:28 a.m., according to a clinic technician quoted in the report, Dr. Korovin “went in again with a laryngoscope and was there for a minute or two.”

More Conflicting Information -

  • Regarding when attempts to revive her were made, the initial record said attempts began at 9:30 a.m., with drugs given at 9:38 a.m.   A second record said that ventilation, chest compression and drugs were all given at 9:28 a.m.
  • The New York Daily News offered additional details-(But used the wrong spelling of “chords” as in musical versus the correct medical spelling “cords” throughout!  Geez!)
  • The physicians also did an unauthorized biopsy on her vocal cords that resulted in an examination of her vocal cords and windpipe that resulted in a laryngospasm, (i.e. the vocal cords suddenly seize up or close when taking in a breath, blocking the flow of air into the lungs.  Her throat seized up and deprived her brain of oxygen. She also couldn’t expel carbon dioxide from her lungs and the result was a heart attack and irreversible brain damage, the lawsuit alleged.
  • During the procedures, doctors ignored the concerns of the acting anesthesiologist, who urged caution after noticing “incredible edema/swelling, in Rivers’ throat.

    Joan Rivers

    Joan Rivers

More Outrageous Physician Comments and Behavior (as reported in the Civil Suit)

“Anesthesiologist Renuka Bankulla suggested taking an internal picture to gauge how bad the swelling was.”   “You’re being paranoid … You’re such a curious cat. You always need to see everything,” the lead doctor, Lawrence B. Cohen, told her, before proceeding over her objections.”  WHAT????

  • During the Critical Minutes: Rivers’ oxygen levels and heart rate sank, a probable airway obstruction. When the team realized the seriousness of the problem it was too late, they called a Code Blue, but never administered a muscle relaxant that might have unlocked the laryngospasm in Rivers’ throat.
  • Cohen did frantic chest compressions; Bankulla tried but failed to intubate Rivers, and two other anesthesiologists, Koniuta and Scarola, rushed in to help with the hand pump to push air into her lungs. They worked for 17 minutes before Bankulla called for a tracheotomy kit, but it was never used.

Where’s the Doctor and “Who’s on First?

  • When Bankulla looked for Korovin, who could have done the emergency tracheotomy, she was nowhere to be found. Rivers’ doctor had left the room, the suit said. This is disputed by her ENT physician.  However reported she was not authorized to be there as a treating physician. This was a violation of state law.
  • Melissa’s attorneys are livid that her ENT physician reportedly “could not be found” in the small room at the crucial time…and they seemingly acted like amateurs, with no one stepping up to the plate to do a tracheotomy which may have saved her life.
  • By the time EMS got Joan to Mt. Sinai Hospital, she had already suffered irreversible brain damage, the suit said.

Melissa Rivers Comments in the Aftermath -

  • Melissa filed the lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court, naming five doctors and the clinic as defendants because of her “unwavering belief” that no family should ever have to go through what “my mother, Cooper and I have been through. “The level of medical mismanagement, incompetency, disrespect and outrageous behavior is shocking and frankly almost incomprehensible. “Not only did my mother deserve better, every patient deserves better,” she said.
  • A Federal Investigation was initiated:  The investigation found numerous violations and irregularities during Ms. Rivers’ treatment. The clinic faces termination of Medicare and Medicaid funding unless it corrects the deficiencies by January  7 and passes a surprise inspection.

    Joan Rivers

    Joan Rivers
    (photo credit Evan Agostini/invision/ap)

  • Update: As reported by on January 12th the Yorkville Endoscopy lost its Federal  accreditation beginning Jan. 31, “will no longer be eligible to receive federal funds for services provided to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries,” according to a notice from the Department of Health and Human Services.   BUT…The loss of federal accreditation doesn’t necessarily mean the clinic will close. Doctors there can still treat patients with private insurance. Regulators couldn’t say how much federal money Yorkville Endoscopy stands to lose. In addition they were given another 30 days to “get their act together” for one final inspection to occur around March 2nd. (‘Reminds me of plea bargaining with a murderer!)

And Finally a Phenomenon Plaguing the Very Wealthy of the World -

  • “V.I.P. Syndrome,” occurred according to Dr. Barron H. Lerner, an internist at NYU Langone Medical Center, in which famous or influential patients get special treatment, which surprisingly often, it is not for the best!
  • Other physicians have written that…. “V.I.P. patients as demanding and manipulative and to resent them for it, which can diminish the quality of their care. For hospital administrators, on the other hand, he said, “The V.I.P. is more than just a patient. He is also an object to be bartered for future favors.”
  • In the words of physician and author David Bernstein, MD’s recent Blog-

Ending it the Way Joan Would Have Wanted!

Anything But A Comedy of Errors – The Ordeal of Joan River’s Death!

Crime Victimization & Victim Impact: Nuts & Bolts and Some “Intangibles”


Just keeping afloat in 2015, takes incredible fortitude and courage. Seemingly at every turn, we see violence, sadness, corruption, natural disaster, loss of morality, indifference and a general “dumbing down” of standards that used to be impenetrable. When we have such forces as our backdrop for life, our yardstick, how do we possibly deal with our personal devastation in the aftermath of crime? How do we personally “keep afloat” and find a sense of hope? It is the hardest challenge we will ever face!

Who Does a Better Job?

Although we have made great strides with the infrastructure of victim advocacy over the years, the humanity, the compassion and support and the “going the extra mile” often lags behind when it comes to governmental services perpetually faced with financial cuts. In my opinion, it is the grass root non-profit organizations who have figured out how to do more with less and made friends with community partners, and survivors of crime themselves who appear to be better equipped to provide the services most needed.

Nuts & Bolts of Victim Impact Statement:

During the sentencing phase of a trial or board of pardons and parole hearing, a crime victim is metaphorically standing at the crossroads of their “forever after existence.” That person hopefully has given much thought and has decided what is truly important to convey to the court or BPP officials individually or collectively with the assistance of a paid advocate or fellow survivor.  As the surviving victim, you should ask yourself before you even attempt to compose a statement, what should be my primary focus? What do I really want?  A review of possible options is helpful – non-hierarchical)

  • The emotional impact and devastation of my loss;
  • Financial  restitution;
  • Requesting a verbal or written apology from the offender;
  • Having the opportunity to add new  information to the formal record with the potential of altering the length and provisions of sentencing;
  • Using this forum for emotional release;
  • Describing the future legacy of your murdered loved one;
  • Educating judicial officials regarding your unique needs and nuances of the process which were previously overlooked but very important to you;
  • Expressing forgiveness to “a higher power” as a way of self-healing;

Other Considerations:

  • In the State of Connecticut when delivering your victim impact statement, you are not limited regarding the length of time, nor is the content edited in any way, according to our Board of Pardons and Parole website and personal experience.
  • In the State of South Carolina, a videotaped statement cannot exceed five minutes in the case of one victim, ten minutes for multiple victims.
  • (Be sure to check with your state as rules vary from state to state.)
  • Physical Environment – During a court sentencing, you will be facing the judge with the defendant behind you or to the right or left of you as you make your presentation.  Your statement is part of the official court record, or hearing.
  • Restitution and Compensation (From the National Center for Victims of Crime) Increasing the likelihood that restitution will be ordered:  Victims can do two things to increase the likelihood that restitution will be ordered in their case: gather information about their financial loss, and request that restitution be ordered.  To increase the chances that restitution will be ordered, victims should make sure their victim impact statement includes a summary of the out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the crime
  • The difference between restitution and compensation: While restitution is court-ordered payment from a convicted offender, crime victim compensation is a state government program that pays many of the out-of-pocket expenses of victims of violent crime even when there is no arrest or prosecution. Ordinarily, to be eligible for compensation the victim is required to report the offense within a certain amount of time, cooperate in the investigation and prosecution, and file an application within a set time. The expenses covered by compensation vary and are usually set by state law. All compensation programs cover medical expenses, most cover counseling, and very few cover any property loss.
  • In comparison, restitution can only be ordered in cases where someone has been convicted. However, restitution can be ordered in almost any case (although courts may be required to order it only for certain offenses), and can be ordered for a wider variety of losses, including property loss. A victim cannot collect both compensation and restitution for the same losses.
  • Technology- Videoconferencing is a concept that has existed since 1996. The clear leader in this area appears to be the State of Michigan. They began in 2004 with the Department of Corrections bringing the total of videoconferencing sites to 64, including five “telemed” sites. Imagine never having to leave prison grounds for prisoner –immigration hearings, dietician and mental health appointments! This is an up and coming industry of vast proportions.  MDs  can even use electronic stethoscopes to listen to heart and lungs and view x-rays instantly! Viola! This is all in the name of reducing costs and increasing efficiency!
  • Is there a line in the sand that needs to be drawn to say that victims of crime also need these innovative heath care services, particularly the elderly after having suffered their tremendous losses? Indeed!
  • “Intangibles”- meaning loss of productivity, medical care, mental health, use of public safety services, property loss, “tangible losses”, “quality of life” loss .  The problem is, the data available is so old – from the National Institute of Justice – January 1996, and can only be used as a general reference. Basically, 19 years ago…
  • Estimates of monetary values, including lost wages were in the range of $500,000 to $7 million;

What is Pain and Suffering and Quality of life really worth?

  • In 1996, violent crime was 3% of all medical spending and 14% of injury related spending and 10-20% of mental health expenditures in the U.S.
  • At that time, losses per incident of criminal victimization (including attempts) looked like this for fatal crimes including rape and murder-
  • Loss of productivity- $1,000,000;
  • Medical Care /Ambulance- $16,300;
  • Social-Victim Services- 0
  • Mental Health – $4,800;
  • Police & Fire Services – $1,300;
  • Property Loss/Damage – $120.00
  • Murder “Tangible Losses (Subtotal) “$1,030.000
  • “Intangible Quality of Life Losses” $1,910.00;
  • Total = $2,940.000

(Reference for above from:

Victim Impact Statement Assistance Service

VIGraphic.001One can assume that for today’s standards, the current cost of living and the escalation of spree and mass murder, these figures may be triple or more per incident. (In my humble opinion)

I do not put much faith in numbers, for they can always be manipulated to serve ones’ point of view, human error is rampant and they do not tell the whole story. I believe that an investment in people and their true life stories illuminate our understanding and pave the way for change far better than what a calculator reveals.

In some cases, the surviving victims may be too emotionally distraught, or may not have the ability to correctly express their feelings. A professional who has experience as a victim of crime, as well as assisting others through trials, can help you put your thoughts into a professionally written statement, and coach you on your delivery in court.

If you are anticipating the task of victim impact statement writing with trepidation, perhaps I can assist.


Crime Victimization & Victim Impact: Nuts & Bolts and Some “Intangibles”