BOSTON, May 29, 2014 — This month, dozens of high level Massachusetts politicians enjoyed immunity in exchange for their testimony in the corruption, bribery, and racketeering trials of various legislators and family court probation officers charged with running an organized crime right through their State offices. Several co-conspirators have been convicted and jailed, leaving Massachusetts leaders with important questions to answer about the human toll organized crime may have taken on the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable families? Are the Probation Department’s ineffective “offender rehabilitation” programs paid for with the blood of Massachusetts taxpayers?
Regardless, Massachusetts leaders are now faced with the question of how to go about empowering good judges, social workers, and probation officers who are committed to rescuing themselves and the State’s most vulnerable families [from the system itself?] In order to answer this question, we need to have a real conversation about why these same corrupt courtroom cronies repeatedly failed to save Jennifer Martel’s life? Where was the Department of Children and families?
Instead of providing services to Remy’s victims to help them recover and stay safe, Remy was rewarded by the State with leniency, therapy, allies, advocate, and other State benefits which his victims did not enjoy. The State also targeted victims who reported Remy’s violent crimes by providing the offender with a fraudulently obtained restraining order, even awarding the Remy family sole and joint custody of the victim’s child. The court sealed the case after allowing the Remy family to terrorize the young teen mother through caustic, intrusive and expensive litigation spanning several years.
The sole beneficiaries of these State programs appears to be limited to the vendors who provided the services, as ultimately, the State’s sponsorship of Remy’s violent crime spree allowed it to continue undetected for almost 20-years.
At the time of Martel’s murder, Remy’s record was virtually clean. Only twice did the courts find Remy guilty, and on ten occasions, the courts outright dismissed the charges against him. The courts also granted Remy continuances without findings (CWOF’s) that resulted in dismissals on six other occasions.
Yesterday marked perhaps the first time in history that the Massachusetts court system created a meaningful plan to protect the public from one of the system’s best customers when it sentenced Jared Remy to life in prison without the possibility of parole for stabbing Martel to death in front of their 4-year-old daughter and several onlookers in August 2013. Remy’s arrest brought an abrupt end to the violent career predator’s court endorsed crime spree, kicking off the only peaceful time some of his victims may have ever known.
But according to Attorney Bella, there was no “pay to play” scandal involved with Remy’s case because Remy never received any special treatment from the courts.
In other words, the Remy case was just some deadly business as usual in the Massachusetts courts.
“If there’s a sign of hope that arises from Martel’s vicious murder,” says former prosecutor Wendy Murphy, “let it be that the public takes a closer look at the gushing flow of money from DC that literally rewards violent male offenders with cash, therapy and training programs AFTER they get in trouble with the courts for assaulting the crime victims who live with them.”
WOULD THE PUBLIC HAVE BEEN SAFER IF MASSACHUSETTS PROVIDED SUPPORT SERVICES TO MARTEL INSTEAD OF REMY?
To say the system should have foreseen such a tragic end is to is to assume wrongly that the officials who presided over his cases did not. Over the years, the system repeatedly let Remy off the hook, even rewarded Remy’s family for his violent crimes with sole and joint custody of the children of some of the victims who dared to come forward. The record suggests that it was not that these highly regarded officials did not understand that Remy could not be both a violent drug addict and a responsible father, it may have just been that shutting off Remy’s access to victims would have shut off the lethal walking gravy train that they themselves had created for profit.
For decades, Attorney Murphy has worked on criminal cases in the same Massachusetts courts where Remy faced dozens of charges on some 18 cases who says that the way the Remy case slipped through the cracks was not an isolated incident.
According to Murphy, the system is not broken, it’s running exactly the way it’s creators intended. But if the DOJ’s crime prevention grants are not being used to prosecute dangerous predators and crime victims, who are the real beneficiaries of this funding?
“The well-funded ‘training and education’ programs for violent male offenders have created a perverse incentive for judges to refuse to ‘punish’ violent criminals with either loss of custody or incarceration, and to send them, instead, to training programs that do not work.” Murphy also says that the net result of this funding frenzy is that abusive men feel financially supported and NOT punished – while victims of violent crimes are forced to live with escalating violence because of a legal system that refuses to protect them from harm.
THE MASSACHUSETTS COURTS ARE NOT BROKEN
The vast majority of professionals working in the Massachusetts courts are probably honest, hardworking, and really care about the troubled families on their caseloads. But in a corrupt system, cash is king and such honest workers don’t always get a seat at the table.
To say that the highly trained professionals who were appointed onto Remy’s cases over the years were too vapid to recognize the haven of corruption they worked in for years, or that they lacked the qualifications to properly identify a troubled violent career criminal like Remy would be an insult if levied against any idiot off the street with even half their experience.
Compared to other court systems that I have worked in, Massachusetts employs some of the smartest and most qualified judges and agency leaders I have ever had the privilege of crossing paths with. This is because the greater Boston region is home to the best universities in the world known for training some of the greatest legal scholars and activists the mankind has ever known. It is often from the region’s talented pool of scholars that the Massachusetts courts cherry pick the job applicants who go on to become the State’s future leaders.
The 2010 arrests of several Probation Department leaders and legislators operating an organized crime ring from their State offices should have caused the courts to audit every court vendor and every case the corrupt court officials had been involved with. But that’s not what happened.
Just three months before Martel’s murder, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced that both the State’s Probation Department and the Department of Children and Families (DCF) would be getting a fresh start. Then DCF Commissioner Ed Dolan was appointed as Chief of Probation, then placed Olga Roche at the helm of the State’s child protection agency. Last month, Roche resigned from her post with DCF under pressure from legislators who expressed concern over various DCF funding misappropriation scandals involving Justina Pelletier, a sick Connecticut child who continues to languish in State care, as well the recent deaths of several other children under the Department’s supervision.
As Howie Carr so aptly pointed out, it was not the first time the Governor may have made mistakes at the expense of public safety. In, 2012, Governor Patrick appointed perhaps the only State official with a driving record that could rival Remy’s (Sheila Burgess, clocking in with 32 entries) to become the State’s Highway Safety Chief.
Power and cash are king in corrupt systems, and the road to prison is often paved with good intentions. Thus, we must cease repeating any lucrative mantras suggesting Massachusetts should throw tax dollars at the problem to beef up staffing and training at corrupt agencies where the staff and vendors have historically made their blood money by profitably ignoring both the law and the arguments of victims.
Today Massachusetts released a report advocating for more funding, staff, training for the State’s troubled offender-friendly child welfare agency.
Perhaps it’s time for someone other than the usual suspects to perform an audit on the way DCF and the courts do business to ensure that oversight, transparency, and accountability will follow.
Feeding the beast is not the answer.
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