A Call For Justice For Bonnie Foreshaw

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 Co. 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 a 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 prison. 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.

Andy Thibault is a journalist and a columnist for the Connecticut Law Tribune.
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