On Saturday, May 9, 2015, it wasn’t a case of “too many cooks spoil the broth” on Shattered Lives Radio– it was “many cooks make the broth” when crime victim advocate put their heads’ together on behalf of the public!
It was really a “meeting of great minds.” The groundbreaking show can best be described covering a very unusual parole reversal case, combined with victims’ rights policy and the honoring of a fallen police officer who became the victim of a ruthless homicide.
Toward the end of the show, a “wish list” of sorts was created by guest contributors Attorney and former CT State Victim Advocate, Michelle S. Cruz, CT Survivors of Homicide Advocate, Jessica Norton- Pizzano and Plainville, CT Chief of Police Matt Catania.
“How much time do I have? “was Michelle’s question.
Michelle Cruz’s Ideas for Reform:
- Devise a checklist of locations to search for family members (for notification purposes) based upon their former geographic locations, employment, other known affiliations, special interests etc. It is high time that Board of Pardons and Parole and Victim Advocates “think out of the box” in an attempt to reach out in every possible way for this important purpose. In addition to the usual social media, I’ll add Ancestry.com as a possibility!
- Alter the notification period currently from the standard 35 days to at least six months to a year! Revolutionary? Yes, but in view of how long it takes for state agencies to do their work and the knowledge that attorneys assisting seldom have the flexibility to alter their calendars in 30 days in the midst of court trials etc, this is a realistic time frame.
As seen in the Robert Holcomb parole hearing, relying on outdated documentation and “not going the extra mile” to locate family members for parole hearings, made for an intolerable situation!
- “Put some teeth” into the system In other words, if any one of the many constitutional rights of a crime victim is violated, no matter the reason or the person committing the violation, build in real consequences! What might those consequences be, you ask? I offer: docking someone’s pay, suspension from work, remuneration to the victim from “the party who failed to act.”
Jessica Norton-Pizzano’s Ideas (via the CT Victim Rights’ Enforcement Advisory Council )
- Create a central place to compile, and display victims’ rights information from all agencies in all court settings including Survivors of Homicide, (SOH), Mother’s Against Drunk Drivers, (MADD), Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services (CONNSACS), Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV), The Office of Victim Services, (OVS) ,and The Office of the Victim Advocate (OVA). This could include information desks, special kiosks etc.
- Establish a long-term notification system , in particular including minor children, as they will be the future representatives for cases in which parents and other relatives pass on over time.
- Utilize the full capacities of SAVIN. Include another box on the form that would provide for in person notification if the family chooses. Refer to one of my former blog posts: The Most Important “Head’s Up EVER! The Victim Information Notification System (VINE)
Police Chief Matt Catania’s Ideas
- It is vital to keep the human touch in the process versus relying on “paper and electronic methods” as we continue to serve victims of crime.
It should be noted that it was Matt’s valiant efforts to unearth the true nature of the injustices done to the Robert Holcomb family, to strategically work collaboratively and with sensitivity for family members using uncompromising standards so that justice was done for both families!
“Nothing can replace the power of human contact and compassion.” LadyJustice
PLEASE listen to this podcast and share.