Archive for category Justice
As a survivor of homicide with 30 years of experience in crime victim issues, Ladyjustice uses integrity and compassion everyday in the performance of her job and full time advocate for many people who are oppressed or forgotten. However, does this compassion extend to death row? At this writing, LJ has to say probably not….unless it is definitively proven that the prisoner has been wrongfully convicted to this “special class” called death row. And another thing…. Why should we have any compassion for any murders in the first place? Although this topic continues to be widely debated with no clear cut answers, this blogger choses to focus on accommodations of death row in selected states and some of the forces that contribute to the status quo.
We begin with an interesting set of facts regarding the debate and actual demographics of death row inmates, compliments of:
(Within the telling graph below, the 1977 average time between conviction and the number of months to be executed was a little over 4 years, compared to the 2009 average of 169 months or 14+ years). What does that say about justice and the times in which we live? Read on, bloggers…
The Debate: When the constitution was written, the time between sentencing and execution could be measured in days or weeks.
A century later, the Supreme Court noted that long delays between sentencing and execution, compounded by a prisoner’s uncertainty over time of execution, could be agonizing, and resulting in “horrible feelings” and “immense mental anxiety amounting to a great increase in the offender’s punishment.” (In re Medley, 1890, as cited in Foster v. Florida, 2002).
But in the wake of the Supreme Court-mandated suspension of the death penalty from 1972 to 1976, numerous reforms have been introduced to create a less arbitrary system. This has resulted in lengthier appeals, as mandatory sentencing reviews have become the norm, and continual changes in laws and technology have necessitated re-examination of individual sentences.
Death-penalty proponents and opponents alike say such careful review is imperative when the stakes are life and death. “People are adamant . . . that every avenue should be exhausted to make sure there is no chance (the condemned) is not guilty,” former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers said in 2001. “The surer you are, the slower you move.” (Atlanta Constitution, October 27, 2001).
The years it takes to carry out a death sentence exact a huge toll – on taxpayers, victims’ families and inmates themselves. Yet without thorough appeals, mistakes in death penalty cases would be missed.
The Intensity of the Debate increased a thousand fold in Connecticut with the case of Michael Ross
[LJ has the distinct honor to know personally some of the crime victim families associated with the many victims of serial murderer Michael Ross through her association with Survivors of Homicide Inc.]
Michael Ross was executed in Connecticut on May 13, 2005. He was found competent and waived his appeals.
Michael Ross was about an hour away from becoming the first inmate executed in New England in 45 years when his lethal injection was abruptly put on hold in 2005. Ross had waived his appeals and accepted his execution. But his former public defenders, along with a death-row expert and a former prison official, raised serious doubts about whether he was competent to make such decisions, or whether despair over his living conditions on death row had caused him to become mentally unhinged – perhaps suffering from death row syndrome. [There’s that phrase again…. Bloggers, please go to Susan Murphy Milano’s journal and read about others claiming to be unhinged after this blog at:
Ross had attempted suicide three times while in prison, writing after the last attempt of the isolation he felt sitting in a cell 23 hours a day, thinking of his crimes and his impending lethal injection. He once admitted that he was seeking his execution largely because of “a desire to end my own pain.”
2009 Demographics of Death Row Inmates
(According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics: Capital Punishment)
- 56.1% of the death row population is White;
- 41.5% is Black and 2.4% is of another race;
- Men on death row make up 98.1%, while women make up 1.9%;
- The median education level of death row inmates is 12th grade.
- Of death row inmates, 54.7% have never married, 20.5% are divorced or separated, 21.9% are currently married and 2.8% are widowed.
- 8.6% of inmates had a prior homicide conviction.
- 65.7% had prior felony convictions.
- Among all inmates under sentence of death, half were age 20 to 29 at the time of arrest; 11% were age 19 or younger; and fewer than 1% were age 55 or older.
- The average age at time of arrest was 28 years.
- As of 12/31/09, 29.1% of all inmates were age 30 to 39 and 51% were age 25 to 44. 1.2% of inmates are under the age of 25, and 2.6% are older than 65.
- 7,773 people have been sentenced to death from 1977 until 2009.
[Ladyjustice finds it very curious that over 50 % of death row inmates have never married. What does that say about men’s attempts at intimate partner relationships as they build up anger and resentment? They keep trying and fail at relationships with men and women, to say nothing of the intimate partner homicides of those with marriage licenses. In addition, it is very clear that you don’t wind up on death row as a first time offender. These are seasoned criminals….]
Should you be a fan of Hear Women Talk, radio shows, Vicki Childs and Carol Baker featured a lively debate (11-28-2011) on all sides of the issue with guests Paul Peterson, Paul Henderson, and Richard Dieter. Particular facts that were illuminated for Ladyjustice were:
- One expert’s opinion regarding the most prevalent reasons for wrongful convictions is: wrongful identifications and misconduct of police and overzealous prosecutors.
- The “old adage” that the data can say anything you want it to was exemplified during this show when another expert related that 138 people were freed from death row -17 of which were proven via DNA analysis since the 1970’s as a result of a landmark case known as “Furman vs. Georgia.” No…. wait.. data regarding Barry Scheck’s Innocent Project showed that 5 people were exonerated from receiving the death penalty.
- But, but… the DNA exonerations by the Innocence Project are not related to murder cases…
- And… the biggest controversy arose between experts when the discussion turned to those exonerated versus those having the charges dropped due to wrongful prosecutions.
- In the end, some experts on Ms. Child’s show agree that it may be “okay to ratchet down the system” (i.e. abolish death row) in favor of saving those innocent of the charge [Notice LJ did not say “innocent people’] and saving money!
Who knows what the answer is? However, it is obvious that we can no longer afford the delays for the sake of crime victim families. We can’t locate adequate legal representation in sufficient numbers for prisoners; nor can we afford death row accommodations as things stand.
A Review of Selected States:
According to a report from the Office of Legislative Research in Connecticut whose job it is to acquaint state legislators of the issues via research on topics of inquiry, death Row inmates and conditions were reported on as of April 2011 as follows:
1) Connecticut: In Connecticut there are 10 inmates on Death Row. Michael Ross was the last execution in 2005…and the political winds are such that those remaining will be a resident for years to come….
- The longest serving prisoner is Robert Brenton, first sentenced in 1989 , convicted of beating and stabbing his ex-wife Jo-Ann and their 16 year old son.
- The most recent addition to death row is Steven Hayes, convicted December 2, 2010 of the Cheshire home invasion and vicious murders of Jennifer Hawke Petit and her two daughters, Hayley and Michalea. The second trial for accused murder Joshua Komisarjevsky begins this month.
- Six of the ten inmates have not yet completed the initial appellate review by the Connecticut Supreme Court. Four have completed their appeals through the State and U.S. Supreme Courts resulting in denials. All four filed habeas corpus (unlawful incarceration) petitions.
Actual Death Row Conditions (Example: State of Connecticut)
[LJ- For those who exhibit compliant non-violent behavior]
The Department of Corrections requires that:
1) Death row inmates spend 22 hours a day in their cells;
2) DR inmates are not permitted any congregate activity;
3) DR inmates are always alone- in isolation except when escorted;
4) DR inmates are escorted by at least one staff while in restraints when moving outside their cell;
5) DR inmates are allowed two hours of recreation outside their cells six days per week. This time can be spent indoors including the law library with use of the phone or a “caged courtyard” outside;
6) DR inmates are permitted to access the commissary but with greater restrictions as compared to other inmates;
7) DR inmates may partake in selected religious, educational, social or counseling services by court decree and DOC management /supervision;
8) Any work assignment is restricted to the death row housing units. Prisoners must be secured in their assigned area until the task is completed. [ LJ- Note that other states do not permit work assignments on death row – Read on…];
9) DR inmates are allowed three one hour “non-contact” visits per week.
The Department of Corrections stipulates that all cells must be well ventilated, sanitary, appropriately heated and adequately lighted. They are “equipped” with a bed and furnished consistent with the general population cells. (? Sink and toilet)
Searches are conducted on an irregular schedule at least every 15 minutes by regular staff. Death row prisoners are visited by custody supervisors once per shift. Calls are inspected at least twice a week by the unit administrator.
Clothing that is “not degrading” is provided, the same as the general population.[LJ- I have never seen a degrading orange or beige jumpsuit in my life!] DR inmates can have basic personal items in their cell [LJ- Assume nothing that they can make into a shank, of course!]
Movement and Restraints:
DR inmates are handcuffed behind the back for routine out of cell movement such as : showers, phone calls, visits, recreation. Once the inmate is secured in the area, restraints
are removed and vice versa. DR inmates are fully restricted in front for “professional visits” including attorneys, medical, mental health visits and video conferencing. Such restraints include handcuffs, leg irons and a tether chain. DR inmates are fully restrained behind the back for out of unit movement within the facility.
DR inmates receive “the same quality and type of food” as the general population within their cells. Should inmates use food or food service in a hazardous or inappropriate manner, an alternate meal service is used.
More Selected States:
2) Illinois: As of July 1,2011, Illinois’ death row was officially “null and void.” A state law abolishing the death penalty as Governor Pat Quinn commuted the sentences of 15 men to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Fourteen are now in maximum security prisons. One inmate in is a medium security prison with a mental health facility. In prior years from 1977 to 1999 when the death penalty was reinstated, 12 men were executed. The super max prison known as Tamms in southern Illinois is the most restrictive, while the former death row prison in Pontiac, southwest of Chicago is now a step-down transitional prison.
3) California: Dave Mann, journalist for the Texas Observer reported in June 2010 that the nation’s first super max facility in which inmates are kept in long term solitary was built in 1989, opening its Pelican Bay facility. Forty other states and the federal government followed suit with super max facilities or special segregation units.
- As of 2009. At any given time, there are between 25-100,000 prisoners serving time in permanent or temporary solitary confinement … and this continues to increase.
- As of June 2011,California has 714 inmates on death row.
- A new study showing how much the death penalty costs taxpayers revealed that since 1975 and the reinstatement of capital punishment by then first time Governor Jerry Brown, 13 people were executed at a cost of $308 million each.
Executive Director of Death Penalty Focus, Jeanne Woodward (a former San Quentin warden) stated that the study reveals that the state of California can no longer afford executions and that if death sentences were altered to life without the possibility of parole, they would save a billion dollars in five years.
Although a bill was introduced to ban the death penalty in the legislature recently, it would also have to pass the ballot box. Legislators say the status quo isn’t tough on crime, it’s tough on taxpayers.
- According to an LA Times article in November 2009, the California Supreme court was/is so overburdened with cases, it takes 2 to 2.5 years to file all briefs in preparation for oral arguments;
- For prisoners sentenced since 1978, after automatic appeals have been decided, the average delay, “the judgment of death” and the filing of a California Supreme Court opinion was 8.1 years.
- Delays between the appointment of counsel and filing the initial brief were 3.7 years. However, due to the scarcity of available attorneys, it was more like 11 years!.
- The average delay between the judgment of death and oral argument before the Supreme Court was 7.6 years.
- Again, as of 2009, a study conducted by Senior Judge Arthur Alcaron stated that an average cost per death row inmate per year was $124,150 (which was more than $90,000 more than those housed in the general population.)
4) Florida: As described in a St. Petersburg Times article, September 4, 2011, a Florida inmate on death row named Ronald Clark fancies himself a poet-writer and has a blog through the support of Dina Milito, a California mother. She and her engineer husband set up the blog via Death Row Support as “a means to express himself, as Dina doesn’t believe in capital punishment.” [LJ -How very thoughtful of you Dina, while those murdered by Clark are silenced forever!]
- Clark is one of 397 prisoners on Florida’s death row within a 63 square foot cell.
- Clark was found guilty of two vicious murders involving repeatedly shooting one victim in the head with a shotgun, tying concrete blocks to his body and dumping the first victim in a river.
- With his initial murder years earlier, he reloaded his gun, shot him in the mouth, rolled his body in a ditch and took his cash and boots;
- Currently, three death row inmates blog in Florida, as there are no laws or rules prohibiting it as long as they aren’t paid or seeking a pen pal. The Corrections secretary, Edwin Buss, who recently resigned, is incredulous that this inmate could have a blog. [LJ Ditto!] Buss stated that false accusations are being made on the internet and that there is no practical way in which they can adequately monitor the thousands of pieces of mail received and content somehow reaching the internet via friends.
- As of August 15, 2011, an assistant warden deemed Clark’s blogs via Death Row Poet as a security risk….. And yet, his indictments of the prison system and grievances continue… until the Governor signs his death warrant (Clark’s words).
5) Texas: As of November 2010, a Texas Observer article entitled ‘Solitary Men” reported there were more than 300 inmates on death row in Texas.
- Accordingly, Texas was rated as “probably the most inhumane,” in which prolonged isolation 22 ours per day of confinement in 60 square foot cells is the norm;
- An incident on Thanksgiving Day, 1998 in which seven condemned men suspected of planning their escape during work detail at the Ellis Unit, outside of Huntsville resulted in revocation of all work and recreational privileges.
- Texas is one of two states that allow no television (along with Oklahoma) and one of eleven states disallowing contact visits.
- Other than the recreation cage, they spend 158 hours per week , 8,216 hours per year or 94% of their lives in prolonged isolation.
Supporters of the abolition of the death penalty say that such isolation can exacerbate mental illness. Numerous studies report the increased expense and the fact that no real reduction in violence negates the value of death row. Supreme Court Justice Breyer noted, “astonishingly long delays experienced by inmates were largely the result not of frivolous appeals, but constitutionally defective death penalty procedure.”
Justice Clarence Thomas offered a different opinion commenting on the same 32 year delay in a particular case: “The cruelty of the murder for which the defendant was sentenced to death, he asserted, was caused by the defendant, as the perpetrator of the crime.”
Terminating Thoughts from Ladyjustice….
So… what should be our parting words on this topic? Do we care about death row inmates, regardless of environmental conditions and state statutes? Should we follow the moral principle of humane treatment even for the worst of the worst murderers? That, my dear bloggers is for you to decide individually, and not for Ladyjustice to dictate. I invite you to comment!
- Imagine….living in a town so small…that the post office is located in a barbershop;
- Imagine… living through two world wars, the polio epidemic, the Great Depression and 9-11;
- Imagine being a career-minded women when it wasn’t expected in the 1920’s, 1930’s and1940s working initially at a law firm followed by the Connecticut Unemployment Commission Office;
- Imagine… falling in love with the boss in your 50’s and marrying him;
And that’s only part of the story…
Ottlie Lungren, age 94 at her death, of Oxford, Connecticut (population 9,800 people). This woman was fiercely private, meticulous and seemingly enjoyed a quiet life consisting of avid reading, cruise travel liking fashionable clothing, poetry writing and church activities. Her work ethic was described as “…an incredible woman, bright, articulate organized and amazingly good at her job.”
Certain qualities stood out about her… Prior to her marriage, she was so private that she refused to enter any future plans in her school yearbook. A friend states, although she was unusually kind, “Her business was her business and if she wanted you to know something, she’d tell you.” Ottlie loved children (But had no children of her own). She willingly supported friends who were grieving, saying, “If you need to cry, I’ll cry with you. I know what you’re going through.”
Ottlie was referring to her unwavering love and tender loving care for her former boss turned husband, who had multiple sclerosis. He became increasingly debilitated…using canes and then crutches and progressively was barely able to walk. Ottlie sat in the lobby reading a book and attended to his needs so that he could continue to work. Relatives said, “They didn’t waste words… they were both private, but madly in love. You could tell.”
No one had any idea they were dating until they announced plans to marry!
At age 70, after her husband died, there was a turning point in Ottlie’s life…. She pursued swimming at the YMCA and new friendships for lunches and dinners.
Mrs. Lungren had consistently tornher junk mail in half prior to disposal… The fact that she was “a pioneer woman” of her era is in stark contrast to dying of inhalation anthrax (initially diagnosed as pneumonia).
One theory of the 2001 event concerned how a lone 94 year old Connecticut resident fell prey to such a death. That theory was cross- contamination of postal machines handling her regular mail and bulk mail passing through the postal center in Trenton, New Jersey crossing with highly contaminated mail meant for Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy.
Mode of Spread
- as weapon Contagious Incubation
- period Symptoms Vaccine Treatment
- Aerosol No Within 7 days Fever, malaise, fatigue, occasional cough and chest discomfort evolving into severe respiratory distress Yes, but not for the public. Used only by the military Antibiotics, if administered prior to symptom onset
- Expert opinion: “It is deadly. It’s one of a few pathogens that form spores that are hardy and resistant to environmental stresses.”
- - Ramond Zillnskas, Senior scientist at the Monterey Institute of International studies.
Historical Overview of the 2001 Anthrax Attacks:
- Just the facts…as reported by multiple sources:
- “Ameritrax”: Was the FBI Investigation Case Name;
- The case continued from Tuesday, September 18, 2001 (one week after 9-11) through the end of the formal FBI investigation officially closed on February 19, 2010;
- Targets consisted of several media personalities, U.S. Senators. “Unintended deaths” included “ordinary citizens” such as 94 year old Ottlie Lungren, postal workers, a Vietnamese immigrant and Washington D. C. residents;
- Suspects included a bio-weapons expert who was exonerated (Steven Hatfill) and a bio defense lab employee of Fredericks, Maryland (Bruce Edward Ivans)’
- The FBI considered Ivans a “serious suspect” but more indirect evidence played a role with this suspect. He took “an intentional overdose” of acetaminophen, dying two days later …;
- Letters addressed to Senators Leahy and Daschle contained material the texture of refined powder with approximately one gram of “pure spores.” Whereas… Letters sent to news organizations consisted of coarse brown material causing skin infections;
- A minimum of 22 people developed anthrax infections – many inhaling it with 5 confirmed deaths;
- Some messages contained implied “hidden codes” such as selected letters bolded or highlighted letters and incorrect return addresses;
- Much controversy still exists regarding the chemical makeup, origin and identity of the “controlling factors”;
- The scope of the investigation was massive covering six continents, 9,000 + interviews, hundreds of FBI personnel and 67 searches;
- It was often compared in scope matched only to the investigation of the Unabomber attacks spanning from 1978 through 1995;
- The Blame Game… Many theories continue to circulate….Al-Qaeda; Iraq; a” rogue CIA agent” such as Steven Jay Hatfill;
Was the FBI correct in their conclusions? Some say “No.” A brief except follows:
Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 19, 2010
Justice Department and FBI Announce Formal Conclusion of Investigation into 2001 Anthrax
Earlier today, representatives of the FBI and Justice Department provided a 92-page investigative summary along with attachments to victims of the attacks, relatives of the victims and appropriate committees of Congress. This document sets forth a summary of the evidence developed in the “Amerithrax” investigation, the largest investigation into a bio-weapons attack in U.S. history. As disclosed previously, the Amerithrax investigation found that the late Dr. Bruce Ivins acted alone in planning and executing these attacks.
The investigative summary and the attachments are now accessible to the public and have been posted to the Justice Department Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/amerithrax under the Freedom of Information Act. In addition, roughly 2,700 pages of FBI documents related to the Amerithrax case are now accessible to the public and have been posted to the FBI website at http://foia.fbi.gov/foiaindex/amerithrax.htm under the Freedom of Information Act.
Returning to Ottlie Lungren…
Ottlie Lungren was a generous but extremely private individual her entire life…. The fact that there were hoards people examining her every move and possession following her death would have sent her into a tizzy, no doubt about it!
The Questions of How and Why?
Ottlie was of advanced age…She had a habit of tearing her junk mail in half in a meticulous manner (not unlike Ladyjustice…Yikes!). Even our former Governor, John G. Rowland, (Governor of Connecticut at the time) http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/February/10-nsd-166.html recently speculated on his radio show that that she may have held her mail close to her face in order to see the print…and thereby inhaled the anthrax on her mail. With probable deteriorating vision at age 94, this would seem like a likely scenario…essentially creating “the perfect storm”.
Connecticut’s state epidemiologist (expert dealing with the detection and sources of disease in large populations) Dr. James Hadley, advised during the height of the crisis to “open your mail gingerly.”
If only…. May you rest in peace, Ottlie!
“IT’S NEVER COME UP BEFORE”
WHAT HAS TRANSPIRED IN 32 YEARS?
WARNING! Just because something is documented on paper…does not necessarily mean that it will be attended to, embraced philosophically or implemented correctly or incorrectly…
Such is the case with Federal Constitutional Rights and state’s rights passed in nearly all 50 states for victims of violent crime. Thirty two years ago, with few crime victims’ rights and very limited victim services, the awareness began after President Ronald Reagan was shot in an assassination attempt, and realized there was no system to care for crime victims. National Crime Victims’ Rights Week was created. In 1982, the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime produced a Final Report and 68 recommendations that provided the foundation for victims’ rights and services in years to come; Office for Victims of Crime within the U.S. Department of Justice established in 1983.
The focus was treating victims with dignity and respect, implement their rights under law, and educate the public about the impact of to improve our nation’s law enforcement, criminal justice and community response to offenses that, previously, were considered merely “family matters.” Without the vision and leadership of President Reagan, there would be NO:
- National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which provided strong incentives to states to raise their minimum drinking age to 21 – the national law today.
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that was established by President Reagan in 1984.
- Victim/witness programs within all U.S. Attorneys’ offices, and within the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
- National Child Safety Partnership with 26 member organizations to enhance private sector efforts to
- promote child safety and public awareness of child abuse;
- Greatly needed public attention and funding to victims of crime in Indian Country.
State of Connecticut Constitution Article XXIX – Rights of Victims of Crime
- In all criminal prosecutions, a victim, as the general assembly may define by law, shall have the following rights:
- The right to be treated with fairness and respect throughout the criminal justice process;
- The right to timely disposition of the case following arrest of the accused, provided no right of the accused is abridged;
- The right to be reasonably protected from the accused throughout the criminal justice process;
- The right to notification of court proceedings;
- The right to attend the trial and all other court proceedings the accused has the right to attend, unless such person is to testify and the court determines that such person’s testimony would be materially affected if such person hears other testimony;
- The right to communicate with the prosecution;
- The right to object to or support any plea agreement entered into by the accused and the prosecution and to make a statement to the court prior to the acceptance by the court of the plea of guilty or nolo contendere by the accused (i.e. A plea made by the defendant in a criminal action that is substantially but not technically an admission of guilt and subjects the defendant to punishment but permits denial of the alleged facts in other proceedings.);
- The right to make a statement to the court at sentencing;
- The right to restitution which shall be enforceable in the same manner as any other cause of action or as otherwise provided by law;
- The right to information about the arrest, conviction, sentence, imprisonment and release of the accused.
This information would lead one to believe that these rights are well known to the law enforcement community, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys parole board officials and all crime victim advocates….Ladyjustice is here to say… if they know the information…they are NOT being put into practice. What have all of these people been doing for 32 years? As we learned this week, it appears quantitatively and qualitatively… next to nothing… Government judicial agencies have procedures to guide them. The State of Connecticut has reams of Freedom of Information regulations which prisoners have access to… In fact, our state serves as the model with the distinction of the most complex, “bend over backwards” body in the nation re FOI.
We learned that any documents within a prisoner’s file (or information re the crime victim’s family) housed at the pardons and parole facility or DOC is in fact public information. Rather, some information is “protected” if it is sent to the Office of Victim Services.
Ladyjustice’s family was forced to endure the prisoner’s right to apply for parole, regardless of the heinousness of his felonious crimes and appear before the Board of Pardons and Parole with two to four weeks notice maximum …. Notification is still a blur …[Refer to “Shattered Lives” episode “Parole Hearings – A Prisoner’s Gift, A Crime Victim’s Nightmare”
Summary of Events Before the Hearing
OMG! Welcome to my Nightmare… What do we do now?
Receipt of Notification by phone and a form letter… a million questions came to mind… Ladyjustice was put on hold many times, as the assigned advocate appeared to be unsure of the answers; Research, research, research In order to prepare, you want to find out details of the inmate’s former crimes and activities, via judicial internet sources. KEEP ASKING QUESTIONS up the chain of command until you receive satisfactory answers and know your rights (Above) Accountability! WHY?? In the considerable intervening years of incarceration, laws may have chained, memories fade “facts” are really “half truths” etc…
The Reality (Advice) If you get stonewalled and cannot get adequate information, it is vital that you secure the services of an experienced advocate and/or attorney who specializes in crime victim rights. Such a person can truly represent your interests, as “the system” is heavily weighted toward the perpetrator. In our personal experience, you do not have to have a million dollars to get adequate assistance; terms are often workable and reasonable, as the focus is on justice and not attorney-advocate’s fees. If all they discuss is money, look for someone else!
What we learned that was new:
The nature and seriousness of the crimes while incarcerated and activities of associates (Attempted murder of correction officers, causing a riot , car theft , the number of “tickets” infractions over the years makes one realize how much in the dark the victim’s family really is)…without an intermediary.
Questions that will typically NOT be answered up front: (Even when you are the legal family representative to be notified) Examples: The number and type of programs the perpetrator has completed; Will his family be attending the hearing or the other families which he murdered/harmed? Is he in good health? Does he have family/community support and an “Exit plan”? If released, in what town will he be residing? May I have protection?
WHY NO answers when you are worried and scared when so much is at stake? Sometimes…it’s due to the DOC Commissioner’s philosophy on prisoner confidentiality; or… It’s never been done or asked before!
What Else To Do In Preparation…. Ladyjustice needed help to organize and relay questions to the correct sources as her mind was “scrambled eggs” during the week following notification. If your intermediary cannot obtain all of the answers, formulate a written list that can be presented with your victim impact statement for presentation. There are no guarantees that they will be addressed…but you have to try…
Incredulously, even basic “creature comforts” were not even considered; Perhaps it was an oversight…perhaps it was a function of the geographic location being substandard. But…we realized that it was a function of “It’s Never Come Up Before…” WHAT???
Examples that applied to us: Location of convenient parking? Accessibility for those who are disabled (as a result of the crime or otherwise); prior notification of the building layout, availability of water, tissues, personal escorts from parking to the building, physical comfort of the waiting and hearing rooms; juxtaposition of the prisoner, hearing officers and family.
Ladyjustice with her physical disability had to park and walk three blocks to the building as adequate parking was not available; A relative had to find quarters and leave to feed a parking meter as there was no parking lot designated for family members. One small packet of tissue was placed in the hearing room and passed from person to person; Bring your own water….
Examples of More Substantive Questions Submitted in Writing By Ladyjustice (Still Waiting)
- Why was he eligible for good time when he attempted to kill correction officers? Was any good time forfeited?
- Is he earning a salary currently? Can his salary be designated to a crime victim compensation fund?
- Can you make available videotaping resources for elderly family members or those who are not up to appearing in person in the future?
- Why can’t crime victim families receive more advanced notice (as compared to the prisoner’s preparation)?
- How will future changes in good time policies impact this inmate? How has this prisoner been occupying his time for 26 years?
- If this prisoner is released to the community, what type of protection will be offered to our family?
The Importance of Photos of Your Loved One:
The parole board has the benefit of a thick file containing the prisoner’s history and activities. They do not have a true picture of the victim, other than the circumstances of the crime. We need to make them come alive for hearing officers and perhaps the perpetrator. As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words….” And it did truly help in this case… Note: Businesses such as Kinkos-Fed-Ex does wonders with photos needed for such purposes- lightweight, mounted on foam board with easels and reasonably priced. As we could not get clarification on the size of photos allowed, four sizes were made for about $20.00. They were placed strategically – One facing the parole board members and the other facing the TV monitor – the perpetrator and his family.
We could not come with twelve family members with the expectation that all could make a statement. Rather we presented the information as some family will speak, and others are there for support. The board has the ability to “say no” to family regarding “Too many “speaking at the hearing…even 32 years… Incredible! [The legislature sits for hours at public hearings allowing “ordinary citizens to speak on the record].
A Numbers Game…
Quite by accident, Ladyjustice learned that the usual three hearing officers presiding nearly was going to be two as “one dropped out” causing a potential tie when deciding the outcome, forcing the family to return yet again on another day, forsake vacation days from work and more emotional turmoil.
Ladyjustice could not believe that this was not brought to our attention immediately and INSISTED that a third person be located [with more encouragement and input from Atty. Cruz].As it turns out the third person may have voted for release….. but 2 to 1 is better than 1 to 1.
The perpetrator will be in attendance …sort of…. via videotape. It was learned that as a means of saving transportation costs, he would attend via videotape…as well as his family from another location. Ladyjustice feels that this was a mixed blessing as it would feel even more uncomfortable to sit in the same room with the murderer. It was surreal…. We were “watching TV”a very real “reality TV;”
The Key Concern-The Key Accomplishment:
All crime victims have the constitutional right to be reasonably protected. The perpetrator had an extensive and escalating track record of violent behavior. In fact, the Pardons and Parole Board’s website quotes a major study conducted indicating that such escalation is a strong predictor of further violence in the future.
“History is a strong predictor of future behavior – a pattern of early onset of crime, multiple incarcerations, prior breaches, and criminal versatility is all related to increased likelihood of future crime. Offenders whose crimes increase in severity are of increased concern.”
We were unable to ascertain if the murderer has access to the internet directly or indirectly via “prison pen pal sites” and friends on the outside. Given that this man is extremely dangerous, expressed no true remorse or had no knowledge or interest in the family he severely impacted, we all felt our family and the community was at high risk should he learn our identities. At this juncture, Michelle Cruz, Esquire and former State Constitutional Victim Advocate shone on our behalf…along with the clear objections of Ladyjustice and selected other family members.
The usual method was to enter the hearing room, be required to enter your name on the record, read your impact statement quickly, Hearing officers go into executive session by deciding in a few minutes” shake your hand and …Thank you very much, Goodbye” In fact, thiswasnot to take place. Atty. Cruz and Ladyjustice saw to it by negotiating with the Administrator –Executive Director that our rights had to be considered and we must not be forced to provide our names…. CHANGE BEGINS NOW! An initial compromise was to say our relationship – “widow, eldest child of…” etc. with the caveat that we will have to enter your names on the website.”
NO! Objection, Objection! With more back and forth, back and forth and checking with the Chairman of the Parole Board – (a former police captain in a major city) we would be designated as “Victim #1, #2. ## etc.” Whew!
The incredible part of this scenario was that the victim advocates stated in a matter of fact manner, “This has never come up before” … in 32 years….. Advocates have apparently failed to adequately prepare victims and failed to ensure their safety by statute for all this time…as it has never come up….. WHAT??? Ladyjustice is still trying to process this one day later…. Had we not been pioneers…and made them “sit up and pat attention” before entering the hearing room, LJ shudders to think about the consequences.
Ladyjustice must reiterate that each family member within a unit deals with this situation differently. They are all different in personality, coping styles and tolerance levels. That being said, the majority of members…. “Wanted in over and let’s forget the details.” Ladyjustice and their legal representative were of the mindset…“We need to know everything in order to be prepared”. We were ready and able to take charge….
And we did!
Highlights and Lowlights of the Hearing
Just as in her Impact statement, Ladyjustice began by “painting a picture of “Images that Will Never Leave.”
The same method will be effective here…
Uncomfortable chairs in a small room lined up against the wall; A big screen TV facing the parole board.
The chairman skillfully “running the show” making the perpetrator accountable for his incredible testimony.
“It was an accident. “ (Shooting the victim 4 to 5 times” using a revolver, pulling the trigger each time;
The second murder….” I take responsibility… but I was in New York when it happened. I helped clean it up.”
Why did you kill the victim?
“It was stupid” (Ladyjustice- Like crossing the street without looking?)
Witnessing my nearly 80 yea old mother have the strength and fortitude to give a moving statement and then put her face in her hands and cry uncontrollably;
Witnessing other family members break down and re-gain composure to deliver very impressive accounts regarding how the loss had affected each of them;
Witnessing my Mother “crane her neck” to see if there was any hint of reaction from the perpetrator – several
times… There was NONE!
After “executive session” was over hearing denial of parole…until 2018 – five years from now (yet another chance) because of the heinousness of his crimes AND the true impact of our statements!
Hearing Michelle Cruz, thank us for allowing her to be part of the hearing and assisting us.
No…we owe you a debt of gratitude, Michelle!
Law offices of Michelle S. Cruz:
860 415 6529 (MLAW) AttyMichelleSCruz@yahoo.com
This writer has a million examples of liberty and justice compiled over a long period of time. My blog is a microcosm of such examples written about over a year’s time. Ladyjustice will provide a short list of such examples below, focusing in on the Liberty and Justice part, in hopes that others may be interested in reading more….
LIBERTY: Bengali women are now able to escape human trafficking since their pre-teen years by learning job skills and making handicrafts to earn real wages versus the degradation of the sex trade.
JUSTICE: Pobitra, a job training program and Pokritee, a product design and development company, are giving women courage and the tools to escape this destructive way of life! Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade retailer working with 138 artisans in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East showcase these brave entrepreneurs!
LIBERTY: Daniel Hernandez, Jr, a former Upward Bound student had the fortitude and courage to act quickly to save the life of Representative Gabrielle Giffords during the murderous rampage in Arizona.
JUSTICE: Representative Giffords survives and continues to make progress in her recovery (In fact, a new book written by her husband and she will be published soon). Ladyjustice has a special place in her heart for the Daniel Hernandez Jr’s of the world and the Upward Bound Program in Imperial Valley California (the poorest county in the U.S.) LJ showcased this very program.
LIBERTY: As the hearts and minds of our nation were torn apart after the terrorist attacks of 9-11, one group took on the President and Congress, demanding action when they initially chose not to investigate.
Justice: Mary Fetchet, Founder of Voices of 9-11 provides comfort, support and advocacy to many, many victims and continues to lead the charge for lasting change!
Liberty: A dignified woman and former social worker from Connecticut became a violent crime victim in an instant, 22 years ago when her son, on the brink of marriage was murdered so tragically and totally unprovoked by a narcissistic killer who spent years and years on the lamb, hidden by his wealthy family.
Justice: After 22 years… using local, state and international resources, Addie Carone finally got a piece justice after Adam Zach, the perpetrator, was located via a family member in Mexico where Zachs had taken on a new identity, married and had children and a business. Zachs is now incarcerated for the first time in his adult life…. as well as his father for adding and abetting a fugitive.
Liberty: Crime Victims are held hostage their entire lives by the personal violence experienced and any successive violence, as it often opens up the wounds. One of the best ways to deal with this is to attempt become healthier by advocating for others in the name of their lost loved one. Case in point: The Melanie Ilene Rieger Memorial Conference against Violence.
Justice: Sam and Wanda’s daughter Melanie was a nurturing person and had aspirations of being a social work. Melanie’s ex-boyfriend had other tragic plans for her… plans of intimate partner homicide. See Ladyjustice’s tribute to their 15th conference in her memory, this past spring.
Thank you for the opportunity to share!
With the help of all advocates collectively, may we continue to see more examples of justice obtained rather than justice denied!
An open wound that never quite heals…. Submerged memories…Unimaginable loss…. ‘Life altering changes, broken hearts, minds and souls…. Such is the make-up of a person who has been visited by violent crime…
When such a victim puts their trust in the system that is supposed to help them achieve a new normal and a new start at healing, we believe because we are vulnerable, we have no reference point for this series of events… Our “rudder in life” has been irreparably damaged. To believe the experts at our greatest point of vulnerability and grief…. Is to dance with the devil…. Sometimes…years down the road we learn the true realities concerning what the criminal justice system doles out… Such a reality is being thrust upon Ladyjustice’s family.
To be able to comprehend and navigate such a process is difficult at best when the phone call and/or form letter arrives. It is invaluable to have the services of a skilled victim advocate, prosecutor, and crime victim rolled into one. This person is Michelle Cruz. She knows from whence she speaks… She doesn’t just speak…. she feels a victim’s pain.
During this episode of “Shattered Lives,” Delilah takes over the reigns to interview Ladyjustice and Michelle about this very personal topic…
To listen to the Podcast: CLICK HERE
• Introduction to guests and topic by Delilah;
• Introduction to the background of the murder and Ladyjustice’s decision to become an advocate for her family and other crime victims;
• An outline of the circumstances…
• Delilah asks what is the normal process when someone goes through once a victim is notified?
• Michelle explains the process and the fact that parole hearing are public?
• Why does he get parole now? I thought he wasn’t getting out…
• Delilah brings up the point that victims may not know how or what questions to ask or know how to get the proper information;
• “The bandaid’s ripped off … it’s not really 50 years served …it’s 26 years;
• Questions elicited in the process of brainstorming …different for every family;
• Can a family’s wishes be videotaped for the future…particularly with elderly family members who may not be around for every five year interval;
• Ladyjustice’s feelings regarding the perpetrator’s responsibility at the parole hearing…
• Information is power… the process does not have to be as horrific as you think….
• Creating new ground…thinking out of the box …educating the parole board and future victims;
• Policy matters and short notice to the victim;
• Ladyjustice’s information regarding what “lifer’s” typically do… to apply or not to apply for parole;
• The Connecticut Parole system… If you happen to be a victim whose offender’s hearing is in prison clearance is needed…How would a family know? The notification falls short…
• Where is the balance in the system… a discussion about victim -centered system versus otherwise… verbiage versus tangible rights…
• The Constitutional Rights of Victims..;
• Factors that come into play…. Limited staffing, lack of knowledge of parole hearings, being emotionally overwhelmed; transportation, safety issues etc.
• Michelle’s offer to send her e-mails to respond to questions and explain the process; Contact Info: 860 415 6529 (MLAW) AttyMichelleSCruz@yahoo.com
• BOTTOM LINE: Keep asking questions and locate the right person to advocate and explain the process until you understand!
• “We told the victim this… we had this conversation (“i.e. Don’t ask anymore questions…We’re busy”
• Explaining the legal concept of “joinder”…extraordinary circumstance in this case… That’s why we’re in the law books!;
• Explaining concurrent versus consecutive sentences…
• The old goodtime credit… receiving good time up front; If you don’t behave, good time SHOULD be forfeited;
• New crimes committed while in prison…to be served consecutive AFTER he gets parole
• What is good time anyway… back in the day versus good time currently?
• You can write your name on a list and get goodtime credit;
• An example of when good time works well- getting a GED;
• An example when it isn’t effective… “The History of the Philippines” course;
• Counseling session…enough to rip the bandaid off but not enough to make them successful Another example..;
• Programs have the potential of being equally beneficial to crime victims AND prisoners…
• College courses as an example of being equitable…
• Victim Compensation…It’s available…. A 2 year limit in CT, 3 years in Mass; Other considerations for older cases…
• Is Ladyjustice’s case an unusual case? Lying to victims about sentencing… a mathematical calculation and changes over time;
• Earned risk reduction credits 60 days off per year…and the true case of 60 years for murder without good time- the perpetrator’s sentence is a lengthier more true sentence;
• Discussion of the nature of the prisoner’s crimes in prison…
It’s allowed in this public forum;
• Discussion of whether the parole board members really care about the victims…
• Twenty- six years is not enough…. How do victim’s summarize that length of time?
• Discussion of the importance of having a voice in the process…however you chose to do it- ways to participate;
• Delilah’s statement regarding the importance of this show and blog to assist others who may have to go through the process in the future;
• Ladyjustice’s closing statement and thank-yous;
Questions that may be elicited from this podcast:
• Despite being a knowledgeable advocate, why are there so many questions?
• What does notification really mean?
• If your offender committed a crime many years ago, are we notified?
• What types of questions and needs are important to the victims?
• What happens if other family members do not want the perpetrator to hear their victim impact statement?
• Why such short notice for victims?
• Balance and equity in the system- Where is it?
• Can we achieve equity in terms of the rights of the perpetrator versus the victim?;
• Does Michelle advise victims to hire an attorney to represent their interests?
• Defining terms – concurrent, consecutive, determinant sentencing versus indeterminant; the legal concept of “joinder”?
• When should joinder be used?
• ***How does someone receive GOOD TIME when they continue to commit crimes while still in prison?
• Are programs for prisoners helpful…or not?
• What are the factors that may contribute to victims not knowing about victim compensation?
• Promises, promises… What has been the most difficult part of Michelle’s role in her former position?
• How can a crime victim keep track of the offender’s sentence re parole eligibility date using the DOC website?
• Are victim’s allowed to know the nature of prisoner’s crimes in prison?
• What does the parole board expect of the crime victim’s role during the hearing?
• Why is it so important to be prepared…and what are the reasons for doing a victim impact statement?
• If the perpetrator has a short sentence is it worth it?
Law offices of Michelle S. Cruz:
Parole Hearings: A Prisoner’s Gift; A Crime Victim’s Nightmare…
Ladyjustice believes that the name Betty Broderick could be synonymous with snake venom. Dan, in turn, was a psychological manipulator and a philanderer. Betty exacted what she thought was the ultimate revenge… and received 32 years to life for second degree murder in the killings of her ex-husband ,Dan Broderick and his new wife Linda as they slept in their bedroom. Both used their children as pawns in a dangerous game of cat and mouse…. San Diego would never be the same…
The landscape of this case is so convoluted, so volatile, and so contentious that a blog would be pages and pages long to capture the story in its full scope. Rather, this author chooses to present a particular focus and “fascinating facts” to leave the reader hopefully wanting more… In addition, we will visit one authority on “the female narcissist.”
To begin with, Betty was not deprived in any material sense. She was the third of six children, whose father was a successful New York building contractor. Hired help was the standard in addition to private Catholic schools. Dan Broderick was the oldest of nine children, a Navy reared, strict Catholic family as well. Betty and Dan married in 1969.
Betty was very intelligent, but appeared to buy into the 1950-60’s housewife and mother fantasy, supporting her man. However, the sacrifice wasn’t worth the final outcome. So the story goes… Betty did everything a good Catholic wife should do. She climbed the social ladder with her husband’s occupational prominence as a physician and later a malpractice attorney with Betty working several jobs as the breadwinner prior to making his fortune.
Dan got bored and his eye wandered to a younger model. No one could have predicted the extent of Betty’s wrath. After 16 years of marriage, Betty was tossed aside. Dan continually lied to her regarding an affair, saying she was crazy…. Concerning his relationship with a newly hired assistant. She was told she was “old, fat, stupid and boring.” A suicide attempt… ‘Attempts at perfection to please her husband. Betty became that crazy person Dan told friends about…
Craziness…she rammed her car into his home, scrawled “God” on court documents where his name should appear, and left obscene phone messages for her 11 year old son to hear.
Support payments were hefty, after a four year ferocious court battle orchestrated by Dan, Betty was relentless in her harassment. Dan fined her $100 for every obscene word used. She was jailed and briefly committed to a mental hospital. Dan was the head of the San Diego Bar Association during their troubles, and consequently Betty had difficulty finding someone to represent her… in addition to her narcissistic personality and irrepressible anger.
Betty had four living children, one baby who died and three miscarriages with Dan. As horrible she was, Dan harassed Betty for years using his knowledge of the medical and the legal system to his best advantage.
Epstein credits refer to a California law encompassing the time period until a divorce is finalized. During that time, one of the spouses will pay all expenses incurred regarding community property. After the decree, the spouse who paid the expenses is allowed to request reimbursement for half of the monies spent, beginning at the date of separation. Reportedly, due to Dan’s legal ploys and delays, the judge took Dan’s word for the final accounting, with another $5,000 deducted at show cause hearings for use of bad language. Half of Dan’s pension -$240,000, could not be claimed until age 65. Her final award from her “multi-millionaire hubby” was less than $30,000.
Media accounts such as the “American Justice” program and the TV movie “A Woman Scorned” portray the destructive antics of Betty very heavily and paint Dan as “Mr. Clean.” However, it becomes perfectly clear that when actual videotapes are seen of the real Betty testifying, she appears self-centered and stark-raving mad…deflecting ALL responsibility toward her ex-husband. In truth, whether she was mentally ill or “crazy like a fox,” it was tit for tat with each spouse creating the toxic relationship. Dan even predicted his own murder…
BUT… What can be said about the Female Narcissist? Sam Vaknin, (author of Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited provides comprehensive information on narcissism and the narcissist).writing and videotaping for the HealthyPlace: Trusted Mental Health Information on Gender and Narcissism , states that most narcissists are males (75%) with very few gender differences noted.
The primary role of the narcissist is to use everything around them for their narcissistic supply.
According to Vaknin, female narcissists focus on their physical appearance-flaunting their attributes and culturally determined role. He goes on to say that they… “Secure their narcissistic supply through their more traditional gender role via taking care of the home, children, suitable careers (“the wife of___”), their feminine traits and role in society. They depend so much on the opinions of others around them that, with time, they transform into ultrasensitive seismographs of public opinion, barometers of prevailing winds and guardians of conformity. Narcissists cannot afford to seriously alienate others in the process of reflecting their false self… The very proper and continuous functioning of their ego depends upon the goodwill and collaboration of their human environment.”
Some narcissists feel guilt and wish to be punished, playing out roles such as the “bad girl” (which fall within traditional expectations) as a means of getting attention. Female narcissists tend to resort to therapy and admit psychological problems. They also treat children as extensions of themselves and Mr. Vaknin believes that female version fights to maintain control and dependence in her children, because she has limited options compared to men. Male narcissists tend to view children as a nuisance…. It’s all about filling her insatiable narcissistic supply.
After reviewing many sources, Ladyjustice concludes that:
- Dan and Betty Broderick were their own worst enemies- both flawed at minimum and perhaps sociopathic at the other end of the spectrum;
- Given Dan’s selfishness, manipulation and role as a user of younger women, Betty could NEVER have resumed her self-defined trophy wife status. She was yesterday’s news in his life;
- Their four children were the saddest victims in this entire ordeal. Split 50-50 at Betty’s 2010 parole hearing, Betty used them as pawns, never caring about how the couple’s destructive behavior impacted them. NOR did she express any remorse even after 20 years of incarceration!
(***FAST FORWARD to 5 min, 40 seconds and play through 6 min, 24secs)
Her Final Fury
This writer had the unique opportunity to be a guest for the initial reading of “Project: Turnpike,” a creative work, a “play in progress” based on the topic of human trafficking from the book, “The Berlin Turnpike.” Human Trafficking is now in the forefront…and it exists in every state and virtually every country globally.
For those born and bred in Connecticut…who used to go to the Berlin Drive-In, dressed in jammies excitedly ready to see a movie from the car, are somewhat taken aback that this occurs now…and has occurred in the past, literally in Ladyjustice’s backyard! How uncomfortable and shameful a feeling! After all, this is Connecticut… supposedly the wealthiest state in the United States!
First of all, the play was presented in the historic, former retail store turned Capital Community College in Hartford, known as the old G. Fox & Company….a staple for those of us growing up in Connecticut. This gorgeous 1930 art deco style architecture took Ladyjustice back to her early childhood in the 1960’s. Seeing the transformation into a practical, stylish 11 story building for the first time… after all these years was truly enthralling! Take a look at history….
The second part of this amazing experience was the opportunity to meet one of the playwrights, Debra Wright (in the elevator), in addition to the wonderful author (and guest on “Shattered Lives,”), Ray Bechard.
To listen to the podcast of Shattered Lives interview with Ray Bechard: CLICK HERE
The expansive auditorium was the backdrop to the small, purposefully sparse stage…. No scenery to distract from the acting. However, such a situation is a heavy burden on actors with only a book of dialogue, a music stand for support and their raw talent.
The cast of characters included “Magic,” the hustler-pimp; and his charges… in different stages of degradation and servitude, living and working along a series of motels and businesses known as the “Berlin Turnpike” (Route 15). Other characters were known as Andy, Helen, Rose, Caz and Rayne.” The plot surrounded the indoctrination, the luring of a new victim, “charmed and snapped up quickly” right from the Union (train) station. The new girl in town is from Vermont, and as naive as a dairy farmer’s existence can be….. The other more seasoned and hardened women proceed to acquaint her with the facts of life regarding exploitation.
In the beginning, the new young recruit is mesmerized by Magic’s charms and does not yet see his toxic side. Throw in a woman from Bosnia (who sounds just like Natasha from the Bullwinkle cartoon) who is his recruiter, “main woman” and also in love with Magic…… and it makes for one sickening recipe for disaster! Did this writer mention that Magic has a perfectly charming family including kids at home who believe he works for the CIA?
Different characters try to obey, try to stay alive and recount their worst experiences for the newbie. To add more spice, one woman who has been kept around longer than usual, finds herself pregnant…and is planning an escape…. Does she make it out? What happens to the newbie? What becomes of this group? Ladyjustice’s lips are sealed….
Kudos go to actors Maggie Erwin, Warren Hawk, Jessica Moss, Lily Narbonne, Julia Rosenbaatt, and Patrick Sullivan. Further kudos go to writers, Cindy Martinez, Debra Walsh and director, Steven Ginsburg! Congratulations to HartBeat Ensemble and Capital Community College for embracing controversy and real topics!
As a work in progress, the Director asked for feedback from the audience. The play will be re-worked with a second reading under the watchful eye of Connecticut author, Ray Bechard. And then… in 2013, the final play in its entirety, will spring forth for the world to see… Stay tuned!
Links to check out:
Parting words… What did Ladyjustice think of the play?
‘Just fabulous… It really makes you think…and appreciate!
The raw truth about human trafficking:
Enthralled, Amazed and Confused…..”The Project: Turnpike” Experience
The multi-faceted Denise Brown…. English Professor in Lyndonville, Vermont, mother of twins, former corporate wife“ to a former Connecticut senior executive, editor of “North Country Cooking” Magazine has yet another credit to her name… Homicide survivor and author of “The Unspeakable” based on the 1998 Connecticut Lottery mass murders.
After her husband Otho Brown was chased in his workplace parking lot, shot three times, laying dead on the pavement adjacent to the former Connecticut Lottery building and the woods…Denise Buel Brown did something unpopular in the aftermath. When an educational fund was initiated for her son and twin daughters, she actually asked for more…Whether you think how dare she…or good for her, Denise’s aftermath admittedly was colored by alcohol rage and brutal honesty.
In fact, Denise wrote about the mass homicide in her memoir called, “The Unspeakable” (December, 2006) begun as a compilation of journal entries.
Brown seemly makes no apologies…Rather, she readily admits, she “was no role model” even before the formerly most recognized mass murder spree in Connecticut. In a University of Delaware alumni article (March 2007) she is described as living the life of “a pampered corporate wife” thrust into the role of a bewildered widow.” At the time of her husband’s death Denise planned to earn her PH.D. in English at her alumni school, UD. Rather, she sought refuge at their Vermont home. “Unspeakable” gives detail to her romance with “Ott” Otho Brown versus the gruesome details of the crime. Author Brown sets the stage in her book by delineating its purpose in a straightforward manner: 1) “To contribute a counter voice to the love song of violence we so willingly sing in our society;”2) To illustrate the devastation of a family with a father suddenly gone; 3) To offer comfort to those who have suffered as well, to show how we survived.
Ms. Brown speaks occasionally on this topic after nearly15 years. She will be a featured speaker at the Melanie Ilene Rieger Memorial Conference on June 2013.
Prior to the Newton, CT mass shootings on December 14, 2012, the Connecticut Lottery shootings on March7, 1998 was the most heinous with the greatest number of fatalities to date, killing four senior employees prior to the perpetrator, Matthew Beck committing suicide.
The method, in which such events are reported, differs greatly in today’s world. In 1998, fact checking took priority over reporting “whatever you can get, as quickly as you can get…..and be damned with the details. It may be analogous to the difference between using a classic Royal typewriter and any social media website. There’s no comparison…
Referencing the series of Pulitzer Prize winning articles authored by 1998 Hartford Courant staff writers and the New York Times the following comments concerned television coverage of the lottery disaster:”
Deborah Johnson, Channel 3′s assistant news director, said it was more important to confirm the deaths and make sure families had been notified than to be first with that information.”
“Although stations provided much useful information, there also were some minor factual errors and a few other glitches. The danger of live television, especially in cases where reporters and anchors have a lot of time and little new information, is that correspondents make mistakes, offer uninformed speculation or discuss their own feelings about the sad event”
Here is a list of salient features of the mass shootings below. This story is indeed incredible as you will note at the conclusion, for it is so very illogical, begging the question, Is there any price in which a person’s life is worth taking? In a civilized society, we say never…but in practice, we witness something very different!
Circumstances of the Shootings…
Mr. Beck arrived at the office as it opened about 8 A.M., having made his 40-minute drive from his home in Ledyard. About 8:30, he showed up at an office where Ms. Mlynarczyk was meeting with several employees and discussing some new software, said Karen Kalandyk, who was at the meeting, She said Mr. Beck stood in an open doorway and directly faced Ms. Mlynarczyk. ”All of a sudden, he put his arm up and we saw the gun,” Ms. Kalandyk said. ”He just aimed the gun right at her, he said, ‘Bye-bye,’ and he shot her three times. Mlynarczyk. was found dead, in a seated position, with her face on a conference table in a front office.
Lottery President Otho Brown, 54, and former New Britain Mayor Linda A. Blogoslawski Mlynarczyk, 38, were among the victims of what is believed to be the state’s deadliest workplace slaughter. Also killed was Frederick Rubelmann III of Southington, 40, vice president of lottery operations and administration; and Michael Logan, 33, of Colchester, the agency’s information systems director. Mr. Logan had denied Mr. Beck his grievance in a first hearing last year.
Friends of Michael Logan stated, “He was a computer wizard. He was constantly helping people with their personal computers. People at work did love him,” “He was a perfectionist. Everything he did was done very thoroughly,” “There was not a nicer guy you could meet anywhere.”
Linda Milynarczyk appeared to be irrepressible… (Similar to Ladyjustice) She combined number-crunching with a love of public service. As a certified public accountant, she took a job as chief financial officer of the state lottery in September 1996, 10 months after losing out on a second term as mayor. A month into her term, she managed to escape injury when a small plane flown by her future husband, Peter Mlynarczyk, sputtered and crash-landed in a Middletown cornfield. By the time a reporter arrived at the scene, the mayor was snapping photos of the plane and laughing about her good luck. [LJ-Wow!]
“If I’ve learned anything, it’s that sometimes you can’t sweat the small stuff,” she said at the time. “Compared to New Britain politics, I would face this again any day.”
“We heard, ‘pop, pop, pop.’…Beck showed no emotion as he systematically sought out and killed superiors who had been involved in a union grievance he filed last year
Beck shot Rubelmann inside the building as he tried to direct workers to safety, police and witnesses said…. Outside in the parking lot, Brown was screaming for workers to run into the woods behind the building. From about 50 yards away, workers watched helplessly as Beck chased Brown into an overflow parking lot that was empty of cars.
Then Otho put his arm up in the air.” Brown, lying on the ground, pleaded for his life. Beck stood for a moment, breathing hard, one pant leg stained with blood. He leveled his pistol at Brown.
And then he just shot him, twice,” said accountant Marion Tercyak, her voice breaking as she recalled the scene. “People were screaming and crying in the woods. Ott was lying on the ground. Matt walked around him, still pointing the gun at him, and shot him a third time.” There was no expression on Matthew’s face,” “Nothing.”
Then, as a police car screeched to a halt nearby, Beck raised the gun to his own head. Two shots were heard. Beck crumpled to the ground.
Prior to the Shootings…
In the hours before Matthew Beck hunted down four top lottery officials, he would place at least two telephone calls. One was to a newspaper reporter; the other was to his union steward to find out how much longer it would take to resolve a grievance against his employer.
Beck was a 35-year-old man who friends say had tried to kill himself, who had taken four months away from work because of stress, who had a permit to carry a gun and boasted in a resume about being “skilled in a variety of weapons” and having “received tactical response training and situational analysis Beck had been very depressed for the past year and seemed to be harboring a lot of anger. He returned to his job only 10 days before the shootings.
His supervisor, Karen Kalandyk, said that when Beck returned to the office last week, he seemed different, shunning small talk with his colleagues. “He was like talking to a stone,” Kalandyk said. “Some people were afraid of him. I wasn’t, but I guess I was wrong.”[LJ “I guess I was wrong…I guess I was wrong… I guess I was wrong…”]
He cut his hair in a military style; he already was losing his hair,” said John Krinjak. “He seemed to lose weight. He had a very severe look about him. Beck, who never married, enjoyed guns and had quite a large collection,
At the Beck family home in Ledyard, a sticker on the front screen door of the light blue cape reads: “Warning!! Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be shot again.”
Said Joseph Mudry Jr., the steward at the Administrative and Residual Employees Union, “Beck gave no indication of any deep hostility when he spoke with him about 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
Beck wanted to get out of the lottery division. He had applied for several other jobs, including positions at the state auditors office and Central Connecticut State University. “He just didn’t feel comfortable working with the lottery,” Mudry said.
Brown had steered the gunman away from frightened employees like herself.
“I think Mr. Brown knew what was going on. I think he was a hero,” said O’Neill. “I’m sure he saved a lot of people’s lives today.”
The Crux of the Matter: Exposing Flaws and a Two Dollar Raise…
Beck was performing a computer-related job in Logan’s division but was still being paid as an accountant, a position that generally is paid about $2 an hour less than the computer job, according to state records. Beck earned $45,400 a year.
State police believe that their investigation will showed that Beck was deeply resentful about the way his grievance was handled and the way he perceived he was being treated. The victims did not appear to be targeted randomly and were all involved in the grievance process.
Linda A. Blogoslawski Mlynarczyk, who was the lottery’s chief financial officer, met with Matthew Beck on Feb. 27th, one week before the shooting to discuss his new duties working solely as an accountant.
Otho “Ott” headed the entire operation. His signature is on a letter offering Beck a job in 1996. “Congratulations,” Brown wrote. “I look forward to working with you in this new venture.”
In dollars and cents, Beck’s grievance does not appear to be about huge sums of money. According to state payroll records, the difference between the data processing jobs Beck was doing and the accounting job was, on average, about $2 an hour.
Beck had already won on a critical point — that he had been doing duties not in his job description, union officials say. The negotiations over how much back pay he was entitled to were just beginning.
“He was unsure when he was going to get his money,” said Joseph Mudry Jr, his union steward.
Lyn Bixby had the gambling beat at the Hartford Courant, conversed on the phone and met in person with Beck about “exposing the flaws in the system”.
Matthew Beck said he wasn’t working at the time because he was on a medical leave for stress. He was upset over the way he had been treated at work, but mostly he said he wanted to expose flaws in the system that compromised the integrity of the state lottery. One of Beck’s issues was the lottery’s long-time practice of using inflated jackpot amounts in Lotto advertisements to spur ticket sales. Another of his concerns was that some lottery clerks had been cheating the system by “fishing” for winning instant tickets. They would randomly punch code numbers into the lottery computers and take the cash when they came up with a winner.
“Who knows what would have happened if I had been in the office, Bixby said…
Postscript by Ladyjustice:
Such a sad needless loss of life and a failure of “systems to recognize and be proactive”…. But 15 years later Connecticut is reminded again. Is the very real credo of union’s language about “working out of class” worth a life? Not on your life!!! There is another relevant description for state employees’, which guides all of us in state government, reminding us that we need to pitch in at time … And other duties as described.” Those of us without a grudge know it’s there in our job descriptions, and do the tasks anyway…
- Sandy Hook and Pre-emptive Civilian Disarmament (informationliberation.com)
- “Nothing You Do For Children Is Ever Wasted.” The Connecticut Connection (donnagore.com)
- The Hartford Courant editorial: Sandy Hook pictures would change debate (pantagraph.com)
- Criminal Disarmament of the People (lewrockwell.com)
- A laurel to the Hartford Courant (cjr.org)
- UConn/Courant Poll: Post-Newtown, CT Favors Gun Control (connecticut.cbslocal.com)
Anna Doroghazi of Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services is a public policy and communication professional… However, she well knows that the stats in her report do not tell the real story alone…The personal heart wrenching stories of those courageous individuals who, not only suffer the injustices of maltreatment by virtue of their minority status…but also have experienced a personal invasion of the worst kind…that of sexual assault.
Anna returned to “Shattered Lives” to provide valuable information on a specific case and enlighten us to the true plight of many marginalized populations who fall prey to sexual assault – the disabled, the LGBT community, Native Americans and immigrants; in addition to women and men experiencing intimate partner violence- the Violence Against Women Act.
Listen to the Podcast: CLICK HERE:
- An overview of CONNSACS;
- An Update on the State vs. Richard Fourtin Case
The lynchpin…How the state defines the term “physically helpless;
- Fear and defending oneself during sexual assault;
- Delilah asks, What if the victim was not physically disabled?
- Making a case for a special circumstance…
- New Legislation: Goal to amend the definition of “physical helplessness;”
- Retroactive changes???
- One of the most important pieces of Federal Legislation for those experiencing DV and Sexual Assault-The Violence Against Women Act- An Overview…;
- Senate Bill 47 – A Resurrected Bill…
- To help advocate for this issues visit this website daily - www.4vawa.org/
- Delilah speaks on Susan Murphy-Milano’s past involvement with VAWA and her probable message today;
- Protections against marginalized communities with the new VAWA…. THE SHOCKING STATS;
- Jurisdictional issues with Native Americans… and why we see so much sexual violence;
- Prosecutions, resources, geographic isolation;
- “A misdemeanor murder” on the reservation…. Flagrant oppression;
- Prosecution rules and helpful solutions…;
- Why is the incidence of sexual violence so high?
- General disability stats and adults with developmental disabilities;
- Chat room comment – Disabled upon disabled crimes…it starts with information; The myths about sexuality and the disabled;
- VOCABULARY – an illuminating and tragic story;” “My Stomach Hurts;”
- The degree of assistance…and respect;
- The LGBT Community, violence and fear of “coming out;”
- Feeling unsafe when they seek help … an open invitation for offenders…
- Human Trafficking in Connecticut – CONNSACS and the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women;
- The risks of immigrants who are sexually abused;
- Government’s response -U-Visas giving temporary legal status to victims; (See attached for further information)
- Connecticut’s sexual assault legislative goals for 2013;
- Contact Info: www.connsacs.org/;
- Collins, King co-sponsor new effort to fund Violence Against Women Act (bangordailynews.com)
- The Violence Against Women Act is on life support (washingtonpost.com)
- With Rape Leading Headlines, VAWA Stalls at Home (blogs.forward.com)
- Notre Dame: Another Reason to Reauthorize VAWA (blog-aauw.org)
- Dear Congress: Let’s Get Moving Together! Reauthorize VAWA Now! (amnestyusa.org)
Ladyjustice recently fantasized in a blog comment, what a great moment it would be from the perspective of this homicide survivor, to see someone effectively de-throne and ceremoniously remove the judicial robe of the judge who ultimately ordered supervised visits of the Powell children with their father Josh, after he lost custody. What a photo opportunity! This writer would pay money to see that one!
To “be fair,” Ladyjustice is well aware that it was a particular set of circumstances that set the events in motion – like the domino effect… and not one sole person to blame. However, the buck stopped with the judge, regardless of what or was not interpreted as “evidence.”
This brings us to the question(s), can a judge be fired? If so, are they ever carried out?
The answer is yes… According to Susan Smith of www.Fedsmith.com, an immigration judge (Levinsky vs. Department of Justice) was fired by the Department of Justice in 12-2006 for “sexist and ethnically insensitive generalizations and profanity.” The judge presided over deportation hearings of aliens who were previously convicted felons in Fishkill, New York. A trial attorney filed a discrimination complaint against him for inappropriate communications which amounted to a discriminatory hostile work environment in violation of Title VII. In practice, he was cited for “professional misconduct including poor judgment/use of profanity in the courtroom and expressing prejudiced opinions about various ethnic groups.” The Chief Immigration judge recommended Judge Levinsky’s removal, which was altered to a 60 day suspension and then the full Board re-instated his removal. Judge Levinsky attempted an unsuccessful appeal. Admittedly, this is not a “vey juicy” example. Granted, this judge exhibited despicable behavior. However, such behavior was not the direct cause of multiple homicide-suicide….
Very limited information was found on this topic when performing internet searches. Ladyjustice knows there are a least a few thousand drug addicted, alcoholic or mentally deranged judges in our midst. Why do we not hear of these cases at the very least? Are they locked away in some sort of purgatory, perhaps? Judge Kathryn Nelson take note… You are now on the hot seat forever!
Defrocking of Priests
Let’s set the stage…. the serious consequences – that of unpriestly ways resulting in child molestation has been all too common for years. In May 2010, the future Pope Benedict, refused to defrock the late Reverend Alvin Campbell of Illinois, even though Cardinal John Ratzinger followed church law, as “the abuser refused to go along with it.”
As told by Los Angeles reporter, Nick Allen for the Telegraph newspaper, “According to documents obtained by the Associated Press from court records, the cardinal wrote on July 3, 1989: “The petition in question cannot be admitted in as much as it lacks the request of Father Campbell himself.” The decision was in keeping with church law at the time and provides the latest evidence of how the system frustrated US bishops struggling to root out abuse.
Several decades old cases have recently emerged raising questions about decisions taken by Cardinal Ratzinger’s office in abuse cases. The Vatican has denounced what it calls a campaign to smear the pope and his aides.”
In fact, a quick and efficient defrocking was recommended to “spare the victim’s pain while still maintaining church law.” Bishops had the power to exercise various options such as removing abusing priests from the ministry, restricting their activities and/or contact with the public, as well as reporting their crimes to the police. With the explosion of abuse cases in the year 2000 and beyond, the Church shifted the blame to the media and advocates of abortion, characterizing the situation as “sin from outside forces infecting the church.”
Pope John Paul was clear in his belief in 1979 to all priests that “the priesthood cannot be renounced.” [LJ – NO MATTER WHAT!] Attorneys interpreted this to mean that the practice is,… “once a priest, always a priest” for it is so sacred you can’t kick these guys out according to a May 2010 account by Matt Sedensky of the Associated Press. Although it was technically possible, the fact that the offending priest would not accept it carried more weight then the offense! [LJ- ‘To have such power!]
Father Campbell’s History of Misdeeds
- His trial of sexual abuse could be traced back at least 15 years;
- He began his abuse as an Army Chaplin by exploiting his rank and position with a child under 16 whom he was supervising;
- Accounts reveal that Army officials were alerted to Campbell’s molestations but whether the presiding Bishop “was in the dark” is anyone’s guess;
- Campbell was “reprimanded” and left the service of his own volition;
- He returned to the diocese, became a pastor, left at least three assigned positions “for health reasons” [LJ- Creative phraseology for sexual abuse accusations];
- More of his sexual escapades came to light when one of his charges was treated at a rape crisis center. Evidently, Campbell had showered the boys with watches, video games, bikes etc. to entice them to his waterbed;
- The Springfield diocese has earned a reputation in national Catholic circles as a troubled, volatile place. The list of names of local clergy linked to scandals from homosexual and heterosexual affairs to embezzlement is a long one;
- Campbell was arrested, pleased “guilty but mentally ill” admitted to molesting seven boys in Morrisonville Illinois… and perhaps up to 20 in total;
- He was sentenced in 1985 to 14 years in prison, but served only 7 years prior to his release in 1992;
Campbell died late in 2002, with a lawsuit by victim Matthew McCormick’s still pending in Sangamon County court. A year after Campbell’s death, the suit was settled out of court, and McCormick received a financial payment from the diocese.
Bishops “looked the other way” and appeared to be much more concerned with the damage to the diocese and their pocketbooks versus the true victims. Routinely, when they attempted to remove child molesting priests from service, the cases would “stagnate for years” without a church trial and/or the priest’s cooperation.
Church officials continue to defend the status quo by saying that… “Both the criminal justice system and Canon law is complex… and designed to prevent wrongful convictions… But there is always room for improvement.”
Was it a matter of “pass the buck” up the chain of command in this classic case of abuse with Father Campbell? Officials representing a Survivors Network for Abused Priests believe that the ultimate responsibility lies with former Pope John Paul’s policies. Over time, Canon law has undergone policy changes, most recently in 2003.
Involuntary defrocking has not existed since or prior to the 1970’s. However, “if there is overwhelming evidence”, Bishops now have the authority to expedite such requests directly to the Vatican.” How often does this happen? This writer has no clear answer…only speculation that it is far less often than child victims deserve!
And so it is… that whether we speak of judges who make bad decisions following the law or their conscience… or whether we mask criminal acts under robes …“in the name of God,” it’s all the same result.
“One of irony’s greatest accomplishments is that one cannot punish the wrongdoing of another without committing a wrongdoing himself.”
- Lawyer questions memory of Philadelphia accuser (cnsnews.com)
- 50 Reasons to Boycott the Catholic Church (alternet.org)
- Judge: Accused Sex-Abuse Priests Must Be Named (newser.com)
- Secret files on alleged abuse by Los Angeles priests expected to be public soon (mercurynews.com)
- Philly Priest Accuser Says He Withdrew After Abuse (abcnews.go.com)