Like no other crime in recent memory, the triple slaying in Cheshire, Ct., has galvanized the legislature and awakened the entire state criminal justice system to examine itself in advance of enacting immediate improvements, reports the Hartford Courant. The killings prompted a five-hour hearing yesterday in which legislators considered virtually all options -from building more prisons, including one for inmates with mental illness, to strengthening criminal laws, to sending inmates out of state because the prisons are now full.
Some of the ideas have been postponed as too costly or controversial, but the high-profile July killings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters prompted considerationof improvements that previously have been ignored. The point that seemed to frustrate the legislators the most was that the state’s criminal justice system is plagued by an archaic computer system that prevents the myriad agencies from communicating directly with each other. Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane said, “I wouldn’t even say we have a woeful information technology system. It’s practically nonexistent.  This is silly in this day and age.” While many police officers file reports electronically and have laptops in their patrol cars, those departments are not connected with the prosecutors, Kane said. One legislative leader said, “We’re almost using parchment paper and quill pens.”