A child's death, a Utah mother's struggle
I recently wrote about a Tooele woman ordered to serve her full 15-year prison sentence for child abuse homicide. Connie Jean Long and her husband caused their 5-month-old son to suffocate in 2005 after stuffing a pacifier in his mouth and wrapping his head with an afghan.
She first went to prison in July 2005 and was paroled in January 2009. She returned to prison in February 2010 and was paroled for the second time four months later. But Long again violated terms of her release and was brought back to prison in April 2012.
The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole held a parole hearing for Long on Oct. 1. About a week later, the board decided Long will not be released until January 2020.
On the left is a Scribd file containing a transcript, with minor redactions, of the October board hearing. The breaks between sections are intended to make reading the transcript easier.
I am sharing it to show the complexity of the situations the board's hearing officers sometimes encounter. Long is a troubled woman, no doubt. That's not the question.
I hope that readers will focus on the policy questions cases such as this one pose. Are Utah's mental health and prison systems adequately equipped and funded to help people such as Long so they don't hurt themselves or, as in this case, innocent children? What programs are available to offenders? Education? Jobs? Mental health and drug treatment? What kind of support do they have once back in the community? What's the best way to deal with women who come from abusive backgrounds and relationships?
In this hearing, it seems apparent the system failed to work for the Tooele mother before and after her third child died.
In the transcript, Long, 37, is identified by the initials "CJL." Board member Chyleen A. Arbon, who conducted the hearing, is identified by the initials "HO" for "hearing officer."
At the start of the hearing, the two discuss Long's current mental health status and medications she is taking for depression and sleep.