RETALIATION AT STATE DEPT. OF CORRECTION
DEMANDS GREATER PROTECTIONS FOR "WHISTLEBLOWERS"
Criminal justice professionals union urging DOC management,
Administration to answer questions raised by news reports of workplace discrimination
HARTFORD—Supervisors in the Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC) are challenging the Commissioner and Governor M. Jodi Rell to respond to recent news reports of retaliation against the agency's workforce. CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 members are concerned DOC management tactics to silence the voice of unionized workers is having a chilling effect at the criminal justice agency.
CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 members raised the issue at a press conference last week in support of a bill to strengthen protections for "whistleblowers" from retaliation. State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and several lawmakers held the news conference to announce the legislation.
"We thought we had turned the corner and put the rampant harassment and retaliation against the workforce at the DOC behind us" Cathy Osten, a veteran correctional lieutenant with eighteen years experience, observed of this week's news. "Sadly, despite the appointment of new leadership in the agency, this latest incident reminds us that the Rowland-era cloud of mismanagement still hangs over the DOC" she added.
A captain and a counselor supervisor in the agency are apparently being transferred in retaliation for speaking out against a manager's racially insensitive workplace remarks, in violation of their union contract. CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 has filed a complaint with the Connecticut Board of Labor Relations over the punitive transfer and replacement of these correctional supervisors by non-union managers.
At issue is accountability for management in public criminal justice agencies, who members of CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 believe must abide by State and US Constitutional law. "This is about freedom of speech and association" Osten continued. "And that matters to the public because our jobs impact the safety and security of the communities where our facilities are located."
Supporting "An Act Concerning Protection for Whistleblowers" is consistent with CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 members' commitment to stand for "quality and our communities." By empowering State workers to speak out against corruption, waste, and incompetence, the proposed legislation can help improve the delivery of valuable public services while saving limited taxpayer resources.
CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 represents 25,000 active and retired public sector workers serving in state, municipal, and town agencies, as well as local school boards across Connecticut. Visit
Local: 860/951-6614 ext. 129
CSEA/SEIU, Local 2001
760 Capitol Ave.
Hartford, CT 06106
"Connecticut’s Public Service Workers are Stronger Together
on the Job and in Our Communities!"
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Courant Stories On Demeaning Treatment & Transfers
Transfers Upset 2 State Workers
Allege Retaliation Over Complaint
By KATIE MELONE
Courant Staff Writer
January 24, 2008
Two spokesmen in the Department of Correction's public information office allege they are being transferred in retaliation for a complaint alleging insensitive comments and demeaning treatment by their boss, Brian Garnett, the director of external affairs.
In November, eight months after the complaint was in part substantiated, Stacy Smith and Ed Ramsey were told their positions were being eliminated and they were being moved into different jobs within the department, said Ramsey, a captain and 18-year veteran of the department. Ramsey filed the initial complaint in November 2006, but Smith corroborates its contents.
"It's too conspicuous," Ramsey said of the timing of the transfers, set into motion this summer after Garnett was reprimanded for affirmative action violations in March.
According to the findings of an internal investigative report, Garnett received a written reprimand because he made inappropriate racial and ethnic comments, referring to Smith's "angry black woman voice," commenting on the fact that Ramsey has a Korean wife, and using the nickname "Simba" to refer to a female major during staff meetings.
"It was never my intent to offend anyone," Garnett said Wednesday. "I have long ago apologized. The matter was investigated more than a year ago, and it is now closed." He denied orchestrating Smith and Ramsey's transfer.
Dan Callahan, the director of human resources, said employees are typically recycled through the public information office every few years and that he, not Garnett, initiated moving Ramsey and Smith. The positions held by Smith and Ramsey, both former correction officers who receive hazardous duty pay, will become administrative, a process Callahan said he put into motion during the summer.
He said other DOC positions have recently gone through similar transitions because the Department of Administrative Services does not want hazardous duty pay employees holding them. But, at the same time, Callahan did say that he does not rule out the possibility that hazardous duty employees will be eligible for the "administrative positions" at the public information office in the future.
Ramsey and Smith both say the department is giving inconsistent reasons for their transfer. They said the department recently listed a hazardous duty pay job at the central office, a fact they view as contradictory to statements they say top brass made in meetings on their job status. They also said there is no written policy that the staff in the public information office should be changed every few years.
At the time of the investigation into the November 2006 complaint on his conduct, Garnett said he found the probe insulting. In an interview with Robert Jackson, the DOC director of equal opportunity assurance, Garnett said his comments to his employees were taken out of context.
Referring to Smith as an "angry black woman" was a topic of discussion in the office, he said, and she often joked about race and called herself "urban African American" names and said things like "Luquica will take care of this problem," according to department transcripts and summaries of his interview.
"One day she put someone on hold and was very frustrated, and I said, 'Don't they know they are going to be dealing with an angry black women [sic],'" Garnett said, according to a pre-disciplinary memorandum Callahan prepared. "It was not an insult."
Garnett also denied saying that Ramsey, whose wife is Korean, was an expert on Asian women. "Not at all, never," Garnett said, according to a transcript of an interview with Jackson. "I take great offense that someone is apparently sitting down, taking stuff out of context, making a list and filing a complaint," Garnett also said, according to a transcript.
It was Garnett's second reprimand. Garnett received a verbal reprimand in 2005 for an inappropriate comment to a former employee of his unit. In explaining her employee review, Garnett told the woman that "if there was a bitchy box he would have checked it, but there wasn't," according to a complaint filed by Heather Ziemba, another former public information office employee.
In addition to the racially insensitive comments, Garnett created a hostile work environment, mistreated employees, demeaned them and made inappropriate comments about female reporters, Ramsey alleged in his 16-page complaint.
Ramsey also asserted that he and Smith were not given enough responsibility, which Smith also said in internal interviews, and that they were basically relegated to answering phones instead of interacting with the press, which they said past employees in their positions did.
Contact Katie Melone at email@example.com.
Attorney General Proposes Legislation As Correction Department Investigates Case
By KATIE MELONE
Courant Staff Writer
January 26, 2008
As the state Department of Correction investigated claims of two retaliatory employee transfers, the attorney general proposed legislation on Friday to strengthen protection for whistle-blowers.
"The kind of incident described at the DOC certainly reflects a more general problem with claims of retaliation that we have seen in other departments, most notably the state police," said Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.
Two veteran Department of Correction employees, Ed Ramsey, a captain, and Stacy Smith, a counselor supervisor, were told they were being transferred out of the public information office after Ramsey filed a 16-page complaint that their boss, Brian Garnett, created a hostile work environment, including, among other things, making inappropriate racial comments to Smith. The complaint was in part substantiated in March, and Ramsey and Smith were told in November they were being transferred. Both will return to correctional facilities: Ramsey starts on Monday, and Smith starts on Feb. 1.
The correction department has said Ramsey and Smith were moved because the DOC is under pressure from the Department of Administrative Services to disallow employees earning hazardous-duty pay from holding those positions. The position titles have been changed, and the employees who hold them will hold the title of associate research analyst.
The union that represents captains and counselor supervisors attended a press conference Blumenthal held Friday and called for a response to Ramsey and Smith's transfer from Gov. M. Jodi Rell and DOC Commissioner Theresa Lantz.
"It's under investigation," said Dan Callahan, the DOC director of human resources, who returned a call to Lantz. "She's not going to comment on it until she reviews all the facts." Rell's spokesman, Chris Cooper, did not return a call.
Blumenthal's proposal would allow his office to intervene on behalf of whistle-blowers in administrative hearings. Blumenthal has no such power currently. It would also allow a hearing officer to rescind a retaliatory act while a complaint is investigated, and require the officer to send any finding of retaliation to the offending party's supervisor, the head of the agency and the commissioner of the department of administrative services.
Under current law, an action can only be considered retaliatory if it occurs within a year of a whistle-blower complaint. The legislation would extend that time limit to three years, a crucial change, Blumenthal said.
Contact Katie Melone at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blasts From The Past
DOC Mouthpiece: Liar Or Fool?
By ANDY THIBAULT, Columnist
Law Tribune Newspapers
March 22, 2004
Connecticut's prison system is filled with liars and fools. Some of these people are inmates. The others, well, they're in charge.
This realization hit me faster than a trip to segregation for having a granola bar. It happened when I was trying to find out the status of a guard being investigated for alleged sexual assault at the York Correctional Institution in Niantic. I called former TV reporter Brian Garnett, Director of External Affairs for the Correction Department.
"Has Smead been suspended?" I asked the afternoon of March 5.
"I'll find out," Garnett responded.
He called back and left a voicemail: "The Department of Correction and state police investigations have concluded. The actions of correction officer Smead were entirely appropriate. There was no assault."
At this time Garnett knew, as I did, that the state police had reopened an investigation into the alleged sexual assault of inmate Bonnie Foreshaw by guard Patricia Smead. In this context, I found his statement stunning. I knew detectives had been on the scene recently, measuring Foreshaw's dress and taking photographs. There were witnesses who corroborated Foreshaw's claim, and they were among those to be interviewed.
To sort it out, I called the state police. Detectives working on the case were surprised to hear that they had finished their job. The case, in fact, had not concluded. Rather, Sgt. Paul Vance told me, the investigation was ongoing.
"I don't know why Corrections is saying the case is closed," another trooper told me. "It's not closed. It's still active. The complainant will be notified when it is closed."
Back to Garnett.
"Do I have this straight?" I asked, repeating his statement. He said I got it right.
"Well, that's a false statement. You lied to me," I told him, citing the state police.
"I stand by my prior statement," Garnett told me. He then said Smead had not been suspended because she had done nothing wrong. After a while Garnett backpedaled a bit, saying he had been referring to prior investigations. I asked him if, as a former reporter, he understood that being misled or lied to would make one upset. He said he did not.
I related this to another former TV reporter who observed: "A former TV reporter LIE? Surely you jest! That's just about as likely as Martha Stewart being convicted."
The jailers are scared to death that someone might believe an inmate is telling the truth. The intolerable wild card for prison officials is that many state police detectives tend to do the right thing no matter what the consequences.
Foreshaw claimed Smead placed her hand and four fingers between her legs, molesting her, on Aug. 24, 2003. The Correction's Department probe of the incident relied partly on a statement by a supervisor who was not present, while failing to credit statements by two inmate witnesses. Friends of Foreshaw say she has been subjected to harassment and intimidation since she brought the complaint.
This case stinks worse than a skunk in church. Foreshaw is a credible witness. She is deeply religious and does her time quietly. Whatever the outcome of any potential investigation, state or federal, the interests of justice demand that all the facts be known and acted upon.
There was a lot of ballyhoo last year when Theresa Lantz took over as Correction Commissioner. There were promises of greater emphasis on rehabilitation rather than exclusive emphasis on punishment. Things were supposed to get better. Telling the truth and holding staff accountable would be a start.
Bonnie Foreshaw Must Go Free
By ANDY THIBAULT, Columnist
Law Tribune Newspapers
December 5, 2005
Dear Gov. Rell:
This is not a request or a demand. As a citizen with a righteous and just cause, I am getting down on my knees to beg you: Please search your heart and your conscience and perform your due diligence in the case of Bonnie Foreshaw. Your review of this case could give it a shot at justice. I know justice matters to you. As a citizen who respects you, I trust you and your fine staff will do the right thing.
Sometime next year, the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles is expected to act on a request by Bonnie Foreshaw for sentence modification. I do believe there are good people serving on this board. I understand they are entirely capable of doing their job without your help. Still, this extraordinary case has repercussions far beyond parole, extending to several state agencies and even to international human rights monitors. If any case merits your attention, certainly it is the case of Bonnie Foreshaw.
Foreshaw gave birth to her first child at age 12. Already, she was a victim of violent and sexual abuse. "It was like I was nobody - no good," Foreshaw said. That violent and sexual abuse would continue through three marriages. She was beaten with a baseball bat and stabbed with an apple pick. Despite all that, Foreshaw worked to buy a house in Bloomfield and support her family. She developed the insight that learned behavior can be changed.
By 1986, Foreshaw had worked as a machinist for Wiremold Company in Hartford for 10 years. She served as union shop steward.
Her third husband continued to stalk her after a divorce. She began carrying a handgun for self protection. On a cold March night that year, Foreshaw stopped after work at the Jamaican Progressive League in Hartford. Hector Freeman offered her a drink. She declined. Freeman pursued her and would not leave her alone. He followed her to her car. As Freeman came toward her, he reached into his pocket and she feared he was going to pull a knife or a gun. As Foreshaw tried to fire a warning shot in the air, Freeman admittedly pulled a pregnant woman - Joyce Amos - in front of him as a human shield.
Amos died. Hartford State's Attorney James Thomas grossly overcharged Foreshaw with premeditated murder for killing a woman she had never met. At sham trial, little evidence was presented of Foreshaw's battered background. No evidence was presented of Freeman's background. Foreshaw is serving the longest sentence of any woman in Connecticut history - 45 years. Had she been charged properly or received a fair trial, she would have been a free woman years ago.
I have come to know Bonnie Foreshaw as a loving, caring, disciplined and deeply thoughtful person. I met her three years ago during a writing workshop run by the novelist Wally Lamb at the Niantic jail. We have kept in touch through various correspondence.
Foreshaw has genuine remorse for her wrongdoing. Indeed, she has been courageous as peaceful leader at a jail rife with abuse and a shocking lack of accountability for corrupt and incompetent staff. She has completed many rehabilitative programs. She is a very safe risk for sentence modification and she would do very well in any community. I am honored to know her and support her.
Nothing breeds more disrespect for the law than injustice. Here, we have an injustice that you and your appointees can heal. The righting of this wrong is long, long overdue.
Fallout From Columns
Editor's Note: No formal action has been taken on Bonnie Foreshaw's case. The matter is in the hands of the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Garnett Slams Column, Foreshaw
New London Day
December 14, 2005
In his column titled, "A call for justice for Bonnie Foreshaw," published Dec. 11, Andy Thibault contends that freeing the murderer of a pregnant woman would heal an injustice. I need to address a grave injustice in his reasoning.
In one agenda-driven, reckless and irresponsible statement, Mr. Thibault debases the entire York Correctional Institution and its staff. While he purports to be a journalist, Mr. Thibault has undertaken no efforts that I am aware of to acquaint himself with the more than 500 professional staff who serve the citizens of our state at York Correctional Institution, nor has he visited the facility in a number of years or sought to research the high standards the staff is held to.
Frankly, Mr. Thibault's repeated and baseless slams of the Department of Correction have come to be expected. What is of concern however, is that a respected newspaper such as The Day would print such an unwarranted attack on the good men and women of our agency, many of whom are also the paper's loyal readers.
Brian A. Garnett
Editor note: The writer is director of external affairs for the Department of Correction.
Column On Prison Life An Accurate Perspective
Published on 12/17/2005
Letters To The Editor:
I would like to salute The Day for publishing the column by Andy Thibault. ("A call for justice for Bonnie Foreshaw," Dec. 11.)
As a previous resident of York Correctional Institution for a murder I committed, I am acquainted with the staff members who serve the citizens of our state. If you notice, I did not use the word professional, since that is not how I would describe the way they do their job.
Yes, there are many who are professional, but let's be truthful. York Correctional Institution was the theme of a segment of "60 Minutes" in May of 2004 based on an unwarranted attack on the inmates of a writing group who did nothing more than express their First Amendment fight to freedom of speech through the written word. The writing group members paid dearly through harassment of staff for trying to better themselves.
An assistant attorney general came to York to investigate this harassment, which eventually led to the removal (transfer) of the York school principal.
The Department of Correction was less than truthful to the citizens of our state through its media comments. It made agenda-driven, reckless and irresponsible comments.
Hats off to Mr. Thibault for accepting there are two sides to every story. And the road to justice is not always the truth.
Barbara Parsons Lane
Spokesman Misses Point Of Rehabilitation
Letters To The Editor:
In his response to Andy Thibault's column titled "A call for justice for Bonnie Foreshaw," published Dec. 11, Department of Correction external affairs director Brian Garnett chides Mr. Thibault for making "agenda-driven, reckless, and irresponsible" statements.
This criticism is bitterly ironic. When the York Correctional Institution students I instruct published their memoirs, and later when one won an international First Amendment award for having done so, Mr. Garnett, as Department of Correction spokesperson, made statements to the media about York writers, our program and me that were irresponsible, agenda-driven and false. These false statements engaged the interest of "60 Minutes" producers who later broadcast the story of Connecticut's vindictive reaction to the rehabilitative work of its inmates.
I am disturbed by Mr. Garnett's dismissive and attitude-revealing reference to inmate Bonnie Foreshaw as "the murderer of a pregnant woman." In 1986, following a trial that ignored the extenuating circumstances of Joyce Amos' death and was rife with institutional racism, Bonnie Foreshaw was handed a 45-year sentence, at the time the lengthiest in the Niantic prison's history.
For the past 20 years, Ms. Foreshaw has led an exemplary life as an inmate, taking advantage of educational, vocational and rehabilitative programming. She has served as a surrogate mother and grandmother to many troubled women and teen-age girls at York and has been active in Literacy Volunteers, Alternatives to Violence and York's hospice program.
If ever a woman rehabilitated herself at York, Bonnie Foreshaw is that woman. For Mr. Garnett to define her solely in terms of her conviction is to subvert Department of Correction Commissioner Theresa Lantz's mission to rehabilitate the state's prisoners. When Ms. Lantz speaks of this mission, she seems to mean it. Her spokesperson seems not to have gotten the message.
Wally Lamb, Willimantic
Published on December 21, 2005
© The Day Publishing Co., 2005
Columnist Accurately Portrayed York Prison
Published on January 6, 2006
© The Day Publishing Co., 2006
Letters To The Editor:
I am writing in defense of journalist, teacher and humanitarian Andy Thibault.
In the letter titled "York correction staff serves citizens faithfully," published Dec. 14, 2005, Department of External Affairs Director Brian Garnett, writes that, "In one agenda-driven, reckless and irresponsible statement, Mr. Thibault debases the entire York Correctional Institute and its staff." This assertion is not, in my opinion, supported by the facts and I feel compelled to set the record straight.
I have been Bonnie Foreshaw's lawyer and advocate for the past 15 years, and I can attest to the veracity of Mr. Thibault's column, titled "A call for justice for Bonnie Foreshaw," published Dec. 11, 2005. It is an honest accounting and heartfelt plea for justice on behalf of Bonnie Foreshaw.
There is absolutely nothing in Mr. Thibault's article that is "agenda-driven," "reckless" or "irresponsible." The Correction Department record is such that neither it nor its spokesman has any credibility whatsoever attacking anyone, particularly not Mr. Thibault, on issues of substance.
I met Mr. Thibault several years ago when I was asking that DOC Commissioner Theresa C. Lantz look into an alleged malfeasance of a corrections officer at York against Ms. Foreshaw. Mr. Thibault was writing an article about the alleged wrongdoing and had called me to verify the allegations. Ever since, I have found Mr. Thibault to be one of the most highly principled journalists - indeed, people - I have ever known.
I have never once seen Andy Thibault waiver from a moral, ethical or legal principle for any reason. He is exceptionally self-sacrificing and dedicated to the concept of justice, and in fact, is a genuinely noble human being.
Mary E. Werblin
Bonnie Foreshaw Case on WTIC 1080
Monday January 9, 2006
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Chairman of the Schaghticoke Indian Tribal Council
Re: Separation From Tribe
TV Critic for the New Haven Register
Re: Upcoming TV Season
[scheduled 9:05 a.m.]
Author of "Law &Justice in Everyday Life," Columnist for Law Tribune Newspapers, Adjunct Professor of Journalism at the University of Hartford.
Re: Bonnie Foreshaw Case
Political Science Professor at Quinnipiac University
Re: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Banning Western Music in Iran
9:05 a.m. Bonnie Foreshaw case
RD - Ray Dunaway
DS - Diane Smith
AT - Andy Thibault
RD - [Humming to the bumper music.] Who's this? Who's this guy? By the way, WTIC. Hey, good morning, welcome to the program. Ray Dunaway. And Diane Smith is here, and by and large, we're having the best times of our lives. Thank you for being part of it.
DS - Here it is.
RD - We'll take calls after 9:30. We're going to talk about a couple of things. To get you up to speed on things, Andy Thibault, who you know, has been on this show before. He is a columnist for The Law Tribune. And a very interesting guy in his own right. Anyway, he has taken on a cause, and it all really goes back a ways. First of all, Andy, great to have you on, buddy.
AT -- Hey, Ray, you got the beat. Thanks for having me on.
RD - We got the beat, baby, we got the beat. This is the story of a woman named Bonnie Foreshaw. Correct?
AT - Yes sir.
RD - First of all, let's get the facts of the case. Because you've written a letter to Gov. Rell saying, look, this woman was not fairly charged, she was unfairly sentenced, this woman should be out by now. So what are the particulars of this case?
AT - Sure, Ray. I've been assured early in December that this would make it to Gov. Rell's desk. Every day Bonnie Foreshaw remains in prison, I think, is a crime against humanity perpetrated by the state of Connecticut. Just a little bit about Bonnie: She gave birth to her first child at age 12. She's been a victim of violence and sexual abuse from childhood through her time in prison. That abuse has continued. After she was beaten by her third husband she carried a gun for protection. She was a machinist for Wiremold Company in Hartford for 10 years, shop steward, bought a house in Bloomfield, cared for her children. And her third husband continued to stalk her. One night she stopped for a drink at the Jamaican Progressive League in Hartford. A man named Hector Freeman offered her a drink. She declined. Freeman pursued her, would not leave her alone, followed her to her car. He came toward her, he reached into his pocket, she feared he was going to pull a knife or a gun. And Freeman admittedly pulled a pregnant woman in front of him. Bonnie fired her gun. She hit the pregnant woman who died. And that woman was used as a human shield. A young, ambitious assistant state's attorney James Thomas grossly overcharged Bonnie.
RD - What did he charge her with?
AT - Premeditated murder of a person she had never met. So Thomas stepped on Bonnie in a shameful and cowardly way to advance his career. He has a chance to redeem himself by supporting - or not opposing - Bonnie's release when she goes before the Board of Pardons and Parole this year.
DS - Andy, what would have been appropriate, what kind of action might have been appropriate legally?
AT - Manslaughter. She would have been out years ago. She's served 20 years. The so-called Correction Department - which I would call the Department of Sadism, Deception and Lies - gave Bonnie a Christmas present. They stole her medical mattress. She has rheumatoid arthritis and she's been given an old, dirty mattress - one that should have been thrown away. And she was sexually assaulted in prison last year and that was covered up. So, I mean, we have a Gulag here in Connecticut and people need to know about it.
DS - Andy, why do you think this is happening? I mean, you're using pretty strong terms.
AT -[Commissioner] Theresa Lantz has good intentions, but she's not getting the job done. Between her and the prisoners there are a lot of sadists and nincompoops. In fact, regarding the guard who allegedly assaulted Bonnie, another guard came to Bonnie's cell and called that guard a hero.
RD - Let me ask you something, Andy. There's no excuse for this. In fact, this did happen. But, has she been by and large a model prisoner?
AT -- As Wally Lamb, who tutors her in the writing group, says, she's been a surrogate mother and grandmother to many troubled women and teen-age girls, she's active in Literacy Volunteers, Alternatives to Violence and the Hospice Program. She's a model prisoner, a woman of great self control, she's sorry for what she did and she's redeemed herself.
DS - Andy, you said she's already served 20 years, right?
AT - Yeah.
DS - I mean, a lot of people who go to prison on pre-meditated murder charges rightfully, don't serve 20 years.
AT - I know a guy who walked into a courtroom in Norwich, pumped five bullets into his wife in a divorce case and said, "Now I can sleep at night." He was only sentenced to 12 years.
DS - What could happen, what's the possibility here, what's the only way for Bonnie Foreshaw [to get out] …
AT - Well, it's tough. She has to get a hearing. But I believe there are good people who will do their duty on the Board of Pardons and Parole. She has an all-star legal team. There's a guy named Clint Roberts, who's an expert on sentence review; Hartford Atty. John Andreini, [Atty.] Rich Meehan, who you know and [Atty.] Mary Werblin are her legal team. So she's got an all-star team, she's got a just cause and we asked the governor to turn the spotlight on this.
DS - It's not a case where the governor could act on her own, is it?
AT - No, she couldn't. But, as I mentioned to her staff: When things were rotten in New London, Ella Grasso got involved in the cover-up of a hit-and-run.
DS - So Ella Grasso kind of brought it out and brought it to some kind of an airing?
AT - She put papers on the desk of Supreme Court Justice John Cotter, who ordered a one-man grand jury led by Joseph Dannehy and Austin McGuigan.
DS - What we're talking about with Bonnie Foreshaw here also if she were to serve her entire sentence, isn't she still facing like 25 more years?
AT - Yeah, she got sentenced to about 45, I forget how many years. The longest sentence of any woman in Connecticut history. She's 57, she's in ill health.
RD-So, she'll die in prison.
AT - She's being mistreated every day. I told you what she got for Christmas.
DS - I'll ask you another question, OK, this is, we talk about a prison system where we believe in rehabilitation. And we call it the Department of Correction, not the Department of Punishment because we believe people can turn their lives around with some assistance. This sounds like a person who if in fact was guilty of the crime in the first place in the way that they portrayed it - which sounds like it was a miscarriage at that point - the woman has certainly … achieved rehabilitation according to your account.
AT - The greatest crime you can commit as a prisoner is to pretend you are a human being. Because you'll be punished for that.
DS-And you say she's done that by acting as a surrogate mother and grandmother to some of the other inmates?
AT - Yeah, what they want you to do is stay in your cell. To get to any program you have to run through a gauntlet. It's much easier to just stay in your cell and just rot away.
DS - You say you got to know her through Wally Lamb's writing workshop. Wally, of course, as most people know, is a world-famous novelist and he did put together a wonderful book a few years ago written by women in that writing workshop. I'm trying to remember now, was Bonnie one of them?
AT - Yes, she was. She had a great piece in there. And, of course, you remember that they punished the prisoners for trying to redeem themselves and writing about it.
DS - Although, wasn't that eventually turned around, Andy.
AT - Yeah, Blumenthal saw the light when 60 Minutes flashed a light in his face.
DS - Uh huh.
RD - Well, Andy, I'll tell you what. Once again, the name of the woman is … Bonnie Foreshaw.
AT - Bonnie Foreshaw must go free.
RD - And she's been in for quite a while.
AT - Twenty years.
RD - [Facing] another 25 years, she was sentenced to 45 years. There was no hope of parole whatsoever?
AT - Her legal team is trying to get her a hearing with the Board of Pardons and Parole. We're optimistic that will happen.
DS - If people in the audience wanted to take up her cause, is there something that people can do that is simple that doesn't involve having to go and protest or call 60 Minutes of whatever? Is there something they can try to do to get this to happen?
AT - They could inquire to their legislators, write to the governor, write to the Board of Pardons and Paroles, you can get all that with a google.
RD-And it is Bonnie Foreshaw. Once, again, I want to thank you, Andy, for being on. Let's stay in touch and let us know how it goes.
AT - Thanks so much Ray and Diane.
RD - Andy Thibault. This also ran, the piece he sent us, ran in The Norwich Bulletin and The Law Tribune.
DS - And The New London Day. It was originally one of the columns that Andy writes for The Connecticut Law Tribune, but those two papers, New London Day and Norwich Bulletin, picked it up. And I might say that Brian Garnett, the former reporter for Channel 3 who's now a spokesperson for the Department of Correction, had a few unkind comments about it. I think if all he's asking for here is a hearing. You know, he's not asking for clemency. Obviously, that's what Andy thinks should happen. But, he's asking for a hearing among people that he considers to be just and fair.
RD - Well, let's get on the record whether she has been a good prisoner, whether there have been issues. I mean, you know, just get it out there. I agree.
DS - What's so scary about a hearing?
RD - It's 9:18 on WTIC