Putting on the Band-Aid for Life  

 

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A colleague mentioned how trying it is to have to put a band-aid on “an ouchy” of a toddler where there was never a mark in the first place. When I thought about it, it seemed like this little gesture of compassion for the sake of a child could be a metaphor for life.

There are many types of people in the world. There are the drama queens – histrionic people with an over-exaggerated sense of everything in hopes of getting and keeping attention. There are the risk takers who truly live by the adrenaline pump with their behaviors – extreme sports, daredevil acts in hopes of achieving that ever higher goal “just because it’s there” as they clearly find everything else in life totally mundane. There are also those of us who by normal standards have been through hell and back and still function well because of an extraordinary amount of resilience.

Crime victims either excel at resilience with some practice or they bask in their victimhood and are never able to graduate to a new normal. I have written much on this topic in the past and at times, marvel at my ability to personally tolerate stuff that others could never approach. There is a danger in developing this sense of taking in the pain of others all the time. You can do so selectively and intensely feel that which you relate to best, or at the other extreme, become intolerant of the little annoyances of life that non-crime victims experience.

Do I really care that your computer crashed, that you can’t find your car keys, that your dog ate your new slippers? Not really. It is a sense of perspective and using your personal life experience as a yardstick. This can be dangerous, as a person who has experienced much trauma in life can be perceived as uncaring toward others. I have survived and succeeded because I try to concentrate on the big stuff. (and also have a sense of detail and organization to maintain control.) When the little stuff happens to me though, I am my own worst enemy with absolutely no patience.

I fear that there is a massive dumbing down taking place in our American culture in many aspects –an oversimplification of intellectual issues to find life more palatable.

As I write this, we have sustained yet another massive assault on human life in the Orlando tragedy that has many layers of the onion still to be analyzed.  It would be unfair of any of us to oversimplify. However, we all do it daily so that we might carry on.

The key to life is balance and respecting others.  I have to secretly remind myself sometimes that the fact that someone’s dog that ate the slippers is traumatic to them, if not to me. We have to give everyone his or her band-aid after all. Some of us wear big band-aids for life while others wear them temporarily.  However, as crime invades more and more of our lives, in a sad way, we are coming together with more in common every day.

I hope that if we are perpetually headed for the dark side, we can also relish the good and come together in solidarity.   All of us need to pay attention to the big and little traumas, while putting them in perspective for a healthier existence. And… just maybe the toddler with a non-existent trauma is smart…as he/she is getting prepared for life.

Catalyst for Change- Victim Impact Statement Resonates Across the Halls of Washington D.C. & with the Inspector General of Homeland Security 

 

The following narrative is a heartfelt account of a mother who lost many opportunities to guide and nurture a daughter who was re-establishing her life.

Wendy Hartling

Wendy Hartling (photo courtesy FOX Insider)

Consider the ordeal and evolution of Wendy Hartling of Norwich, CT.

  • Just a year ago, Wendy was  “just an ordinary citizen” and resident of Connecticut;
  • She was thrust into a whirlwind of circumstances which includes the murder of her 25 year old daughter, Casey Chadwick on June 15, 2015, after her body was discovered stuffed in a living room closet by an illegal immigrant and multiple felon;
  • With the assistance of dedicated advocates including her attorney, Chester Fairlie and the Connecticut Congressional delegation,  her case has served as the catalyst for change regarding the innumerable deportation failures of ICE – The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency;
  • As overwhelming as it is, Wendy has become a local advocate and national spokesperson for her daughter and for all persons who have been re-victimized by the failures of ICE.

The murder of Casey Chadwick is a stunning example of the domino effect at its very worst. Worse than bureaucracy, indifference, incompetence and misplaced priorities, it costs the lives of valuable human beings and allows a vicious, nearly two time murderer to come to the U.S. illegally three times to carry out his crimes! This can no longer be tolerated! 

Wendy’s Testimony at the House of Representatives COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM

Hello. My name is Wendy Hartlng. My life will never be the same after June 15, 2015. I am here on behalf of my daughter Casey who was stabbed to death and stuffed into a closet by a criminal alien, Jean Jacques. He was found guilty of attempted murder in 1996 and served sixteen years in Connecticut Prison. He should have been automatically deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement when he was released from prison. Instead he killed Casey on June 15, 2015 and was found guilty of her murder after a trial. My hope is that he never gets out of prison.

According to laws passed by Congress, Jacques should have been deported. ICE had him in custody and detention three times. Tragically, ICE released him three times and he killed Casey just a few months after his last release by ICE. From defensive wounds we know that Casey fought courageously and that she suffered greatly before her death. If ICE and Homeland Security had done their job Casey would not have died and I would not be here as part of the club of Homicide Survivors which no parent wants to join.

My Attorney Chester Fairlie has written an article on the failure of deportation of criminal aliens. I would like to submit a copy of the article s part of my testimony. Mr. Fairlie states “This miscarriage of the deportation process contributed to the death of Casey Chadwick and caused grief and suffering to her parents and friends.” I understand that the Inspector General of Homeland Security has undertaken a full investigation of the Jacques failed deportation case and we are awaiting the report.

My daughter was loved so much by family and friends. Over three hundred people came to her wake. Casey and I were very close. She called and texted me every day. I can no longer talk to my daughter, hold her, hug her or just simply hang out with her or go out to eat which was one of her favorite things to do. This breaks my heart every second of every day. Casey’s best friend for thirteen years Crysta who came with me on this trip as support is devastated as is Casey’s boyfriend.

This is what I have lost. I can’t watch her walk down the aisle on the arm of her father. She will never have the chance of becoming a Mom, something she was thinking of before her death. She will never see her two nephews grow up or go to her siblings’ weddings. She will never again be at our family functions and holidays.

The tragedy of Casey’s death is not an isolated case and is occurring frighteningly often around the country.

Something has to be done to fix this horrible problem. I would never want any family to have to go through this. The pain is always with me. My heart is broken. I go to a Survivors of Homicide group which is very helpful.  An important thing I learned was that the pain will never go away. I have to learn to live with it. I am trying but it is the hardest thing for me in my entire life.

I was not prepared for Casey’s sudden death and I am doing the best I can. I was not prepared to become a Victim Advocate in her honor and I am doing the best I can. Thank you for listening.

Casey Chadwick

Casey Chadwick (photo courtesy FOX 61)

Commentary

The emotional upheaval of homicide is compounded by the task of crafting a cohesive, personal and impactful statement for the sentencing phase of a trial, or parole/pardons hearing. Wendy will utilize her public hearing testimony above as her victim impact statement.  Her wish is to become a long time advocate for this issue on behalf of Casey’s memory.

As a fellow homicide survivor, I believe that the most compelling aspects of her statement are: what she has learned “… that the pain will never go away and that I have to lean to live with it” and the fact that she was not prepared for the sudden death of her daughter, Casey, not prepared for this level of advocacy required to get justice. I ask you, how could anyone be prepared if they were in her shoes? 

If you have sufficient times – several weeks to months to prepare and require assistance with your victim impact statement, your investment in my customized victim impact writing service could be just what you’re looking for!

https://donnagore.com/victim-impact-statement-assistance/

Important Reference Information:

http://fixdeportation.org/ Chester Fairlie’s Website;

Former Shattered Lives Radio Shows on this topic:

  1. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/insidelenz/2015/10/24/shattered-lives-illegal-immigrant-spared-deportation-murders-ct-woman
  2. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/insidelenz/2016/05/21/shattered-lives-atty-chester-fairlie–government-secrecy-ice

When the Voices of Victims are Silenced  

 

When homicide abruptly occurs, you can barely function. You are out of touch with the reality of it all.  Your world is thrown into an unimaginable tailspin. This happened to my family. It happened to the extended families of Bill and Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins. A father, a son, a sister, brother-in-law and baby to be all lost to homicide.

Bill and Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins with First Lady, Michelle Obama

Bill and Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins with First Lady, Michelle Obama

You learn about the criminal justice system in the “trial by fire method.” Actually, this expression refers the medieval practice of determining a person’s guilt by having them undergo an ordeal, such as walking barefoot through a fire.  The personal ordeal of progressing though the criminal justice system is a similar feeling to walking barefoot through a fire.

The personal story of Jennifer Bishop-Jenkin’s family is illustrative of the coldness of the procedures.  Not only did they suffer the horrendous loss of family, but a fundamental right was cavalierly dismissed.

In April 1990, they were the elated parents–to-be, Richard 28 and Nancy 25. Richard was shot execution style in the back of his head with a .357 magnum. Nancy lay helpless in the corner of their basement floor, pleading that the killer spare her unborn child, trying to protect her abdomen.  The nearly 17 year old murderer had no mercy whatsoever, firing directly at her unborn child, whose gender could not be determined due to the extent of damage.

The cold blooded perpetrator fled immediately and bragged to friends that it was ultimately a “thrill kill.” Why not commit the crime right across the street from the police station. THAT is what occurred.   This was a nightmare of the worst kind.  Even before the blended Bishop-Jenkins family considered becoming national spokespeople for victim rights, there was the judicial process to contend with after the deaths, and family members were laid to rest.

You act as “little obedient soldiers.” You comply with all requests. You come to court.  You dress professionally. You are told to keep your composure at all costs. You listen intently. You are shocked when it appears that the victims are being put on trial and that perhaps, “the poor juvenile was an intelligent boy, with an immature brain.”   You fight for the right to be heard.  You sweat the details, as no one really knows who the victims were in this court proceeding, as they are just too busy painting the picture of “the juvenile as victim.”  They talk about the evidence, the forensics, the judicial lingo. They talk about EVERYTHING but the victims who essentially are faceless nameless people in the ground.  You anticipate  your special time to speak…and then… as Jennifer tells it, shortly before their time  to make the victims come alive, they received a phone call saying essentially,  “We are not going to bother with victim impact statements, as  the defendant will receive a mandatory life sentence anyway…. So what’s the point?”  Never mind that it is a clear violation of crime victim’s rights. Never mind that you only heard the brutality of the crime and not our family as the wonderful vibrant people they were and could have been! Never mind all that!

Fast forward to 2016, 26 years later and the Bishop –Jenkins family has not been afforded the opportunity to speak on the record about the tremendous impact this event had and continues to have on their lives. But, there is hope. A re-sentencing hearing will take place in the future.

Donna R. Gore, LadyJustice,Jennifer Bishop Jenkins, Shattered Lives

“LadyJustice” and Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins

If this makes you mad. If it leaves you cold with shock and horror, you need to know what your rights truly are, if you are a crime victim today, or “just an ordinary citizen.”

If you are in need of assistance writing your customized victim impact statement, my service is the best investment of your time and financially.

https://donnagore.com/victim-impact-statement-assistance/;

To become familiar with Marsy’s Law in general and what’s happening in your state, please get involved. Go to: http://marsyslaw.us/

Additional References-

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/trial-by-fire

http://www.teenkillers.org/index.php/memorials/illinois-victims/richard-and-nancy-bishop-langert-baby/

Crime Victimization is NOT a Spectator Sport

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The judge presides over sentencing, applies the law and sets the tone of his/her courtroom. With few exceptions, it’s generally “speak when spoken to” for victims in this process. A victim may request to meet with the judge privately in chambers. However, one is not allowed to cry “foul ball” or “you’re out of order” when victims see inaccuracies or injustices.

The district attorney or state prosecutor represents the interests of the State in a criminal trial against the defendant.  In the State of Connecticut, these officials are appointed by the Criminal Justice Commission with 13 judicial districts.  Chiefs are appointed for 5 years, Deputy Chiefs for 4 years while states’ attorneys serve for a term of 8 years. All other prosecutors are appointed and serve for open-ended terms.

The district attorney will meet with a crime victim family initially. However, often much of the interaction and information is given or filtered through intermediaries such as the detectives assigned to the case or the court-based victim advocate.

I think the prosecutor can be likened to the pitcher of a baseball game, laying out a strategy to strike out the defendant or control the proceeding when it is their turn up at bat.

In our state, the Division of Public Defender Services will provide indigent clients and their children with representation under the state and U.S. Constitution.  Crime victims generally do not have personal knowledge of as to who is representing the defendant, and they rarely communicate with the victim’s family.  The public defender might be portrayed metaphorically as “the catcher” or pitcher” alternately, depending upon who’s up at bat.

The court based victim advocate may accompany families to a trial proceeding and provide information/education and emotional support and also serve as an intermediary between parties.

In this scenario a new crime victim, almost without exception, feels like a fish out of water,  someone who is looking through a  one way glass and is helpless to understand the process, the delays, the putting the victim on trial, a frequently used strategy and the rights afforded the criminal.  This is their new normal for as long as it drags on.

No one can imagine it. No one wants to live it.  However, there is a service designed to help ease the pain when their voice counts the most. During the sentencing phase of a trial, or at a Board of Pardons and Parole Hearing, a victim finally has a chance to speak up.

One of the remaining avenues for crime victims to have a voice within the courts is through victim impact statements. Victim impact statements are usually read after trial as a way to get into the record the impact of the crime on the victims along with their friends and families.

I’ve created a service program for crime victims and offer assistance in creating a cohesive victim impact statement tailored to the individuals and their cases. I recognize that this could be of great value to not only the crime victim, but to the court system as well.