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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

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