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Taken Away

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

On April 7, 2009 Catherine O’Toole was taken away. Stolen if you will. Taken away from her husband and six children. Taken away was her life in the present and her dreams for the future.

Taken away, a man’s partner, his soul mate, confidant and friend. Dedicated parents living day to day nurturing and preparing their children to embark on quests of their own, they dreamed of a time when they could ride side by side and make new adventures.

Taken away the familiarity and loving touch of a mother and the little things we may all take for granted. No more would a gentle hand pull the covers up to tuck them in bed. No more would there be snacks afterschool or heart to heart conversations of encouragement. This caring woman so in tune to the needs of others was taken away one dark night by a careless, reckless individual who willfully made a choice to drive under the influence.The actions of this individual left a family without their hub, the glue that held them altogether.

On Thursday, July 8th David Hazard will appear before the courts. Unfortunately what has been put before David Hazard is a plea bargain agreement that will sentence him to seven (7) years to serve. In our judicial system time to serve usually equates to two-thirds of the sentence given. How much more does the O’Toole family have to endure? Acceptance of this lenient sentence means also taken away from them is any sense of accountability or justice for the loss, the void that fills them. The O’Toole family is serving a life sentence. A life sentence from which they will never be released as it has taken away their future and their sense of fairness and safety.

In an era when the legislative body is starting to “get it” and have made strides to give law enforcement the tools they need we are seeing a trend towards lighter sentencing. What value life? What message are we sending to deter others from embarking on the same behaviors? The O’Toole family is representative of so many families in Rhode Island and across the country having been initiated into a bizarre and painful world that is a victim family reality.

When is the victim voice heard, when is there a semblance of justice? How long before more is taken away?