I saw this video posted on Facebook just now, and had to share it. When you see so much suffering in the world, it’s easy to think, “But I’m only one person, what can I do?” The simple gesture of kindness demonstrated by the man on the train in this video, literally giving the shirt off of his own back to another man in need, is a perfect example of one person–just one person–making a positive difference.
On September 12, 2016, the New Jersey Senate Law & Public Safety Committee will hear two very important bills that have the potential to have a positive impact on the rights of Crime Victims in our state:
S811 expands the rights of crime victims to include the right to allow certain non-victims to make an in-person statement at sentencing. The bill also allows victims to provide testimony at certain post adjudication hearings. This measure will ensure that the voices of those most deeply affected by violent crime will be heard, and given all due consideration concerning the impact of the crime committed against them and/or their loved ones.
S812 removes the age restriction on testifying via closed circuit television in certain sex crimes cases, where there is a substantial likelihood of severe emotional or mental distress if forced to testify in open court.
Both of these bills will enact much-needed reforms that will protect the rights of crime victims in New Jersey, and Keep NJ Safe strongly supports these measures.
THANK YOU to Senator Loretta Weinberg and Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman for sponsoring these important pieces of legislation.
A letter of support for both of these bills was sent to the members of the Law & Public Safety Committee from Keep NJ Safe today.
UPDATE as of 11:28am, 9/12/16: Both S811 & S812 were released from committee this morning. S811 was released “as is” and, after some discussion and the introduction of a Committee Substitute for S812, that bill was released as well.
CNN is reporting that Brock Turner, a former Stanford student who received a 6 month sentence after a brutally-violent sexual attack on an unconscious woman that sparked national outrage, will be released this Friday, September 2nd, after serving just half his sentence. Turner is being released early due to “good behavior”–an even further travesty of justice. He will serve 3 years’ probation and must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, but many–Keep NJ Safe included–feel that the sentence given to Turner was too lenient, given the severity of the crime.
Another horrific story in The Record today about a decades-old cold case involving the sexual assault and murder of two young women back in 1974, a case that was never solved. 17 year old Marianne Pryor and 16 year old Lorraine Marie Kelly disappeared after a trip to a Paramus shopping mall; their bodies were found 5 days later in a wooded area in Montvale.
One thing that really struck me about the case was the diligence of the detectives, who refuse to give up, and the families who even now, more than 40 years later, are searching for answers.
Anyone with information on these or other cases is asked to call the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office confidential tips line at 201-226-5532. Tips can be anonymous.
News outlets in New Jersey are reporting a new bill filed in the legislature that calls for a crackdown on distracted drivers. The bill’s sponsors, Assemblyman John Wisniewski and Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti, both say that the measure in intended to increase safety on our roadways by cutting down on the multi-tasking that often takes place. If the bill passes, motorists could be ticketed and fined for drinking coffee, personal grooming, and reaching for things in the car while driving–things that many drivers are already guilty of doing, and don’t see as a problem. Fines for the first offense are steep: $200 to $400, with the tab increasing to $400 to $600 for the second offense. Get caught a third time, and you’re looking at $600 to $800 in fines and a possible 90-day suspension of your driver’s license.
Critics, however, say that the bill goes too far, and is yet another example of “nanny-state” regulations that allow government to intrude on one’s civil liberties.
You can read more about this debate, and weigh in yourself, at NJ.com: CLICK HERE.
My take: the proposed fines are way too high, and make this bill seem like “money grab” legislation, which is part of the reason I think so many people are dismissing it out of hand. But as a motorist who travels NJ roadways on a daily basis, I can attest that distracted driving is a huge problem in our state that needs to be addressed. It’s more than just texting and talking on the phone: I’ve personally seen a woman using an eyelash curler while making a left turn across two lanes of traffic. I’ve witnessed people speeding on the NJ Turnpike while eating a sub sandwich with one hand and drinking a giant soft drink with the other, all while holding the steering wheel between their thumb and forefinger. I’ve also seen commuters with the daily newspaper resting on the steering wheel in front of them, engrossed in the day’s headlines while occasionally glancing up to actually drive the car. I’ve been rear-ended a distracted drivers three times in my life–twice in the last year alone.* When you add in texting and GPS navigation and fiddling with your satellite radio station to the mix, it’s easy to see that distracted driving has become the norm for many people.
I’m a big believer in personal responsiblity, and I do think there are times (hello, Kyleigh’s Law decals, I’m looking at you) when well-intentioned laws in NJ go a bit too far. However, with the steady increase in pedestrian deaths that we’ve seen here in our state, along with the sharp increase in accidents caused by distracted driving, this is a valid issue that needs to be addressed. As with most bills that are introduced, it sounds like this one needs some refinement before it is put to a vote, and the public will have an opportunity to weigh in if and when it is heard in Committee. At least it’s getting the conversation going about distracted driving, a topic that needs to be discussed in New Jersey in order to save lives.
*Of the three times I was rear-ended, the first happened while at an intersection located on the downslope of a hill, waiting to make a left, and the driver behind me was texting and didn’t realize I was stopped there until it was too late to brake without clipping my bumper. The second time, I was a passenger, and the multi-tasking guy in the car behind us saw the light turn green out of the corner of his eye and immediately hit the gas, without checking to see if my husband’s car was still stopped in front of him. The third time, I was a passenger traveling on the Garden State Parkway, when a teenage girl in her brand new graduation-present car (it still had temporary plates on it) dropped her cellphone while driving through a toll plaza and decided to search for it, without checking to see if traffic in front of her was stopped. It was. We later learned that it was her second accident of the day.
Our friends at the Joan’s Joy Foundation will host their annual Safety Fest on Saturday, September 17 from Noon to 5pm at the Joan Angela D’Alessandro White Butterfly Sculpture Garden in front of the Hillsdale Train Station in Hillsdale, NJ. The event will feature live music, a World of Wings butterfly exhibit, a Child ID program sponsored by the Hillsdale Police Department, a K-9 demonstration, Internet Safety Education, crafts, face painting, and other activities, as well as raffles, silent auction, and tricky tray items. Assistant Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office will be the guest speaker. Admission is free.
To view and download a flyer about this event, CLICK HERE.
From Paul Montelaro: “My mother and I want to express all of the appreciation in the world to the people who stood with our family during this difficult process. Your support means so much, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all you’ve done.”
From Keep NJ Safe: Many people have been asking us, “What’s Next?” The Parole denial is a huge relief for all of us in the community, but we are still waiting to hear back on one important piece of information–Righetti’s future eligibility date.
Now that a two-member panel has issued a denial, his case is forwarded to a three-member panel, which will deliberate on how far in the future to set Righetti’s next possible parole date. We have repeatedly asked them to set a date 35 years in the future, but the most we’ve ever gotten is 10 years, and that has consistently translated to less than 4 years, due to credits earned by the prisoner. So, unless the parole board decides to set a date further than 10 years away, in all likelihood, we’ll be back at this again around 2020. We were told that the decision process can take several months, so we will keep you updated via this website and our Facebook page when there is news to share.
Rest assured, no matter when his next eligibility date comes up, WE WILL BE HERE, ready to take up this cause again, as often as we have to, for as long as it takes. Thank you so much to everyone who signed our petition, passed resolutions, wrote letters to the Parole Board, and sent messages of love and support to the Montelaros. Your encouragement was a continual source of strength throughout this process–we could not have done it without each and every one of you. God Bless you all.
We just received word that Christopher Righetti’s most recent request for early release has been DENIED.
THANK YOU to everyone who participated in this effort. More info to follow, shortly. In the meantime, CLICK HERE to read a news article announcing the denial:
Or cut and paste this link into your browser: http://www.northjersey.com/news/river-vale-man-convicted-of-murdering-new-milford-woman-in-1976-denied-parole-1.1635824
NJ.com is reporting an incredible story today: convicted murderer Shawn Milne, was released from prison in November 2015, after serving out his 30-year sentence for raping and murdering 13-year old Barbara Harrison. The similarities between the Harrison case and the Montelaro case are startling, and even more shocking: he has returned to live in the same neighborhood where the Harrison’s reside. The story made headlines because Milne was arrested after failing to register as a sex offender.
Such a nightmare for the victim’s family, and the entire community, that now has to live with this rapist & murderer in their midst. .
CLICK HERE to read the full story or paste the following link into your browser: http://www.nj.com/ocean/index.ssf/2016/07/leave_us_alone_says_brother_of_girl_killed_by_shaw.html#incart_2box_nj-homepage-featured
Today, Keep NJ Safe had the opportunity to visit and get caught up with Paul & Alice Montelaro, and they both looked so wonderful. We showed Kim’s mom the heartfelt messages of support and love that have been posted on this page, and she was blown away by the number of people who follow the updates and take the time to comment. They both send their sincere thanks to everyone for their prayers, good thoughts, and most especially, for your letters and petition signatures to the NJ Parole Board. Nothing new to report on that front, but this photo was too good not to share. <3 (P.S. Alice painted that beautiful framed seascape behind them!)