Victim Impact Statement: Let me be the Face of DV Reform

Louisa Richardson Rodas by BettyJean Downing

I cannot speak, I can cry out for help or tell anyone what is happening to me, to add insult to injury I can’t report my abusers or the neglect I suffer. All I can do is take it and cry until Momma comes and finds me in deplorable condition. She has filed report after report to no avail. This is my existence now and the one I will endure for the rest of my life. Given that my heart and organs are in great shape that will be a normal life span of about 40 more years in solitary confinement and at the mercy of strangers. Where is the mercy for me? I was protecting my sister from an abuser the courts would not incarcerate and I am confined for life with no one to protect me? Where is the justice for the innocent survivors of crimes?

 I am trying to help and/or protect others from crimes against women through the efforts of my mother. We have proposed a law in my name in an effort to strengthen violence against women laws and see that they are enforced.

George was never sentenced for nearly killing my dying sister with a hammer over 3 years ago – he was angry and loose when he returned. Then while I tried to call for help finding him holding a shotgun over her- he blew my brains out. The first step is in getting him sentenced appropriately then we will move to get Louisa’s law passed.

Will you help us? http://louisaslaw.wordpress.com/louisas-law/

Louisa’s Law seeks to require significant, effective sentences and strictly enforce VAW laws to reduce violence against women, using a three pronged approach of Prevention, Services and Accountability.

My mom comes to the Long Term Care Facility every night, we want you to see the impact George’s actions have made and why if he had been in jail for the first crime – I would not be in this position today. We want you to see why DV needs to be reformed. I am the face of DV reform. I want you to see what the effects of DV really look like and why you need to help NOW. This could your daughter, sister, mother, neighbor next. 

Look how she finds me?
I can’t wound myself this way, yet they say I did this to myself.  My body is banged and bruised, my faced is bashed against the bed rails and once mom saw them bash me in the head with a lift machine and two against one they denied it.

I am not given mouth care, my Mom comes each night to clean my mouth and suction my throat out so I don’t choke to death. She then scrubs my face and neck , picks my nose and clears the  stuff from my one eye and the empty socket to keep the reoccurring eye infections away – because that is not done for me by the facility.

Mom puts me to bed ever night! Friday night is shower night- Mom comes – she is the one who showers me- I like shower night because that is when the stench of urine and feces is really removed from my body best and my hair is made to smell so clean and look so shiny! Mom put baby powder on me like when I was a baby and I like being babied every night when she puts me to bed.

I have had numerous  horrible rashes, my rashes are so bad they bleed from the  blisters. Mom has had terrible fights with the heads of this place because she has taken pictures of the rashes — they say she is not allowed but she takes them anyway. She has documentation of all the neglect and abuse but can’t show the rashes here. You would cry if you had my rashes between your legs on your vagina and between the cheeks of your butt. You would not be able to sit and urinating/or moving your bowels  into a diaper then sitting in it for hours would be torture!

My finger was smashed and they refused to attend to it – I nearly lost the finger but my mother lanced it and saved it just as it was about to turn gangrene.

This is not about revenge- I will never be made whole, my mom nor my sons will ever be made whole,  but we ask that the price we all pay stands for something and that something is the future of DV no longer be a revolving door of injustice for the innocent survivor.  I am the face of one such survivor. Let’s stop this before it happens to you or someone you love! Help us help you – Please don’t sit by until it happens to you or someone you love – then it’s too late!

Louisa’s Law seeks to require significant, effective sentences and strictly enforce VAW laws to reduce violence against women, using a three pronged approach of Prevention, Services and Accountability. http://louisaslaw.wordpress.com/louisas-law/

Sentencing for George Hartwig will be handed down on 2/24/12 before:

The Honorable Liliana S. DeAvila-Silebi
Bergen County Justice Court
10 Main Street Hackensack,
New Jersey 07601

Please write the Judge and ask for consequtive sentences so that George serves for at least both attempted murders! He has thrown himself on the mercy of the court asking for the minimum and to serve as little as 10 years – we are asking for at least 40. Please help us send the message – DV is a serious crime and should be ajudicated as such!

Steven Seale: Join one man’s plea for “Justice for Louisa”

BettyJean Downing-Kling

The following letter speaks for itself- I had to share this with you. Please find it in your heart to join Steven and ask justice be applied to this as we hope it will stand a precedent for all DV cases. It is time to stand up for Justice! Steven has eloquently made the case, but even a simple letter will suffice. Please join this effort. Sample letters can be found: http://louisaslaw.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/help-get-justice-for-louisa/

January 12, 2012

Judge Liliana S. DeAvila-Silebi
Bergen County Justice Court
10 Main Street Hackensack,
New Jersey 07601

Your Honor,

I am writing you in regards to the case of New Jersey vs. Hartwig. It has come to my attention that you are scheduled to sentence Mr. Hartwig. I am also writing to you not only on behalf of my long time friend BettyJean Kling, the mother of the victim (Louisa) and her family, but also on my own behalf. I am a parent as well as a natural born US citizen.

I, have been privileged and blessed to have born a single and magnificent Son, Jonathan, now of age 27. He has far surpassed his Father in life and value to his communities through his own efforts of scholastics, and personal responsibility for himself and his actions. I can honestly say that I have never once heard him say anything at all that was unkind to another. He has more good, kind, law abiding and faithful friends then I might have ever imagined. He is a beacon of light and faith to them and to me and his Mother. In my words…”He is the best thing that I ever did.” He is a wonderful human asset, a productive member of society, and I am VERY proud that it is he alone that will carry my family name forward. At least if he is not stopped short in life as was Louisa.

In brief your honor, I don’t want to labor you with rhetoric, or the facts that I am confident can be found in your case files. I simply want to say that the perpetrator in this matter does indeed have a problem that needs to be addressed appropriately and in a manner that will provide our communities with the assurance that such crimes will always result in the maximum allowable penalty when the case facts are clear and indisputable. Single handedly, the perpetrator has taken away a human resource, that like my Son, was a beacon of light to so many people. She was kind and loving, productive, honest, law abiding, and believed in the close ties of friends and family. Success seemed to follow her everywhere, and a room would light up when she walked into it. She couldn’t help it.

Perhaps you also are a parent; maybe even own a pet that you dearly love. And if so, you have guided, protected, nourished and also prayed for them to enjoy a better life. Free from harm but not challenge.

Everything has changed for Louisa’s family. Nothing will ever be the same.

I have always had a lot of faith in our justice system to do the right thing. I recognize that it’s not a perfect system and it doesn’t always work how everybody would want it to. That is part of life in the ‘civilized’ world. I have that same faith in you as you preside over this case and make your ruling. I want to look back on this case after your ruling and sentence is carried out and be able to say this:

“Within the allowed law, he was taken off the street for as long as was possible to further insure that he won’t have the slightest chance to regain the privilege of living in the public sector, as a free man, and that he will be asked to accept the appropriate just consequences (not punishment) and take responsibility for his own actions, even if by force of incarceration.”

I know that every case decision and sentence that you hand down is based on serving justice to the best of your ability and according to the letter of the law and all other factors. I would be remiss in my duties as a Father to not ask you to put the perpetrator where he truly belongs for as long as possible. Further, if there is some matter or point of law allowing you to extend his consequences, please consider and take that action as well. My entire family will breathe easier that justice, all that was available under the law way served.

Thank you for your consideration,

Steven Seale
Marietta, GA 30062

Louisa’s Law :To Reduce DV by Prevention, Services and Accountability

BettyJean Downing Kling

In the US, nearly 4 women are killed daily at the hands of their domestic partner, a woman is raped every few* minutes; a woman is battered every few* seconds. Every year, violence in the home and the community devastates the lives of millions of women. Perpetrators of violence against women are rarely held fully accountable for their acts. When women do challenge their abusers, it can often only be accomplished by long and humiliating court battles with little sympathy from authorities or the media. Violence against women is so deeply embedded in society that it often fails to garner public censure and outrage; instead the sentences are often nonexistent. It’s time to stop slapping the hands of perpetrators of violence against women. It’s time to send the message of zero tolerance. And It’s time to create specific sentences for VAW. Women must feel safer to file complaints and testify against their perpetrators and violators must take committing violence against women as the serious crime it is. * Statistics need to be updated to 2012

Louisa’s Law is proposed to honor my daughter, Louisa Richardson Rodas, who was caring for her dying sister Denise Richardson on the day she was shot in the head and permanently disabled by George Hartwig, Denise’s abusive husband.  Had the following proposed measures been in place on December 15, 2008, my daughter Louisa would not be lying in a nursing home, unable to sit or stand, unable to communicate, unable to eat or drink, unable to raise her children or recognize them. 

George Hartwig had viciously bludgeoned his dying wife Denise in the head with a hammer months earlier. He pled guilty to an attack on a dying woman for her pain medication as a result of drug abuse yet he was denied treatment. He was a repeat offender yet he was set free without bail and released without a restraining order. The only protection Denise had was her family taking turns to protect her. It was Louisa’s turn when George Hartwig returned with a shotgun and callously blew the right side of her head off.

Proposed Draft of Louisa’s law

Louisa’s Law seeks to require significant, effective sentences and strictly enforce VAW laws to reduce violence against women, using a three pronged approach of Prevention, Services and Accountability.

a)      Speedy trials because of the risk of repeat violence perpetrated while free on bail and incarceration during sentencing period;

b)      Enter an automatic and enforceable order of protection with a minimum term of ten years;

c)       Violators who were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the violation against a woman or who have any drug-related offenses within three years of the violence incident must enter a rehabilitation program and/or be tested periodically for continued drug or alcohol abuse;

d)      A GPS monitor should be installed if the violator is released from police custody using a system with victim notification;

e)   Full cash bail and full cash surety bonding must be implemented with domestic violence screening as part of the bonding process.  For repeat offenders or violators of restraining orders, offenders are not given the opportunity for bail but should remain incarcerated pending trial because of the documented risk of death to the victim and victim’s family members upon release of repeat offenders and those who have violated restraining orders; 

f)   Violator must enter an approved batter/anger management program with monitoring;

g)   Require a compliance conference before the judge for accountability;

h)   Sentences must be served rather than suspended so that the victims and their families are safe.

i)  Require judges to consider a variety of aggravating factors to ensure safety and punishment consistent with the risks for repeat violence, death, and permanent disability associated with VAW;

J.) Pro bono legal services are provided to the victim to advise her of her rights and direct her for help and services.

K.) Establishing a Nationwide Domestic Violence Registry for use by law enforcement and the public to promote instant access to existing orders of protection and residence of convicted abusers because of the risk of repeat violence.

 

 

 

 

Join our Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/MajorityUnited and register to be a part of the TMU WOMEN coalition that will advance Louisa’s Law , to reduce DV by prevention, services and demanding accountability. In this way we will change the way Justice is meeted out to abusers and reduce injustice  toward their  victims women, children and male intimate partners as well.

TMU is a non partisan group seeking equitable JUSTICE for All!

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