After a jury found Francis Anderson not guilty by reason of insanity for assaulting a correctional officer, he was sent to Connecticut’s secure mental treatment facility. While there, he repeatedly assaulted staff and other patients. Each time he was charged with one of these assaults, he was returned to the facility and did it again. Judge David Gold eventually set bond in one of the assault cases, and Anderson was moved to a secure prison facility. Judge Gold based his decision specifically on victim’s rights provisions — holding that the victims of the prior assaults had a right to feel secure and to be protected from the offender. “Not setting bail, Gold said, would mean that those found not guilty by reason of insanity would be free to commit however many serious crimes they wanted with the guarantee that they would be returned to the hospital with the same victimized staff and patients.” [Hartford Courant] Anderson appealed, claiming in a somewhat rambling brief, that he had a right to be at a facility that treated his mental illness at the highest possible level. He did receive mental health treatment after he was transferred to a prison.
Victim Rights Center avoided any input into the case only because Deputy Assistant State’s Attorney Nancy Walker, who argued on behalf of victims, has a close relationship with VRCCT’s attorneys. Our friends at National Crime Victims Legal Institute (www.ncvli.org) filed an amicus brief defending the decision on behalf of victims. The brief is available on their website.
The following links are to Hartford Courant reporter Alaine Griffin’s articles on the case and argument. http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-criminally-insane-francis-anderson-supreme-court-0115-20150115-story.html#page=1 —— http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-francis-anderson-whiting-supreme-court-0116-20150115-story.html
While Anderson claims that the issue is one of the rights of mentally ill people, the court could most simply decide the case as one concerning bond for the new assaults — for which no finding of mental illness had been made. We hope, however, that the CT court will accept the opportunity to be as courageous as Judge Gold and declare that victim rights stand on equal footing for state purposes as those of criminal defendants. (Victim Rights and criminal defendant’s rights are both in Article I, sec. 8 of the Constitution [though Amendment XXIX].