On a recent episode of Shattered Lives Radio, I was privileged to discuss yet another discrepancy in the Connecticut Pardon and Parole system. As you may remember, my own family’s experience with a parole hearing left us out in left field, scrambling at the last minute to insure that my father’s murderer stayed behind bars.
For the surviving family members of slain Plainville, CT police officer, Robert Holcomb, the incompetence and lack of communication from the Pardon and Parole Board, created the perfect storm and Holcomb’s murderer was granted parole in January, 2015.
Family members of officer Holcomb were not notified of the upcoming parole hearing and therefore were not in attendance when it was granted. However, they immediately asked for another hearing, it was granted, and the parole was rescinded after hearing the statements of surviving family members.
One of the most influential aspects of the recission hearing was the victim impact statement read by Holcomb’s son, Mac, who was only 3 years old at the time of his father’s murder. Mac Holcomb Victim Impact Statement (download pdf)
The Shattered Lives Radio episode speaks with Mac Holcomb, his cousin Maria Weinberger, and Plainville Chief of Police, Matt Catania who has become a valued family friend as well. We were able to bring to light many of the mistakes of the Pardon and Parole Board which has had negative influence on the Holcomb family, my family, and countless others we don’t even know about.
Shattered Lives Radio Points of Discussion
- You don’t know what you don’t know. The fact that as a new crime victim they typically are not versed in criminal or judicial procedures. They also are not familiar with how to navigate the bureaucracies of state agencies, their protocols or websites.
- Who is a victim? Is it only immediate family vs. extended family?
- The role of victim impact statements according to Mac Holcomb, nearly forty years later.
- The police community and seeking justice according to Chief Matt Catania.
- Creating a victim’s voice, what’s missing? New beginnings for the future, i.e. legislative recommendations such as earlier notification for victims, examining the appointment and eligibility process of hearing officers, continuing education, etc.
- Maria Weinberger offers a list of legislative recommendations to address Parole Board Reforms (download pdf)
- Lessons to be learned for the future. From a previous Shattered Lives Radio episode, Atty. Michelle Cruz offers several ideas from her experience as the CT State Victim Advocate.
In my opinion, one of the most important lessons learned from the Holcomb family experience, and my own, is the critical need for crime victims to be heard through preparing a victim impact statement. Often, it’s the only time their concerns are able to be voiced.
One way I feel I can help victims who are desperately trying to navigate the judicial system is by offering a Victim Impact Statement Assistance Service. If you are a crime victim, I invite you to learn more about my service by referring to my website for details.