Amy Locane from prison — second chance was ‘taken away from me’
Is it right to put someone back in prison for a crime they've already been sentenced for and served time and probation because a new judge disagrees with the old one? That's what's happening to actress Amy Locane as she sits at the Edna Mahon Correctional Facility for Women in Clinton. Amy Locane, who's mother started a petition to get her released, called in to my show on Thursday night, April 22, to talk about the whole situation.
"I haven't seen my girls in five months," Locane said when she called into the show. "They're 12 and 14-years-old, they need their mom and I'm just, I've never been so hurt and so devastated. It's hard, it's really, really hard to like, keep, you know, to keep plugging away and to keep my chin up. It's hard not to lose faith.
How is she being treated at the prison, which has been in the news lately?
"Fairly, I've never really seen anything that's been in the news... I've never seen any of that kind of behavior. Everyone has been fair, the officers are fair."
How does she feel about being sent back to prison after already serving both a sentence and probation?
"I'm devastated, I mean I was given a second chance and took that second chance very seriously. I was given a second chance in the world and then it was just taken away from me. I didn't do anything to, I didn't violate, I didn't anything for it to be taken away from me. It was my second chance at life. I rebuilt my life and it is a slap in the face. Not just to me, but to anyone who's ever had a second chance, who has ever taken it seriously, who was ever reformed their life."
What's it like in prison during this time of COVID?
"Everything was shut down for a number of months. I saw my girls once in five months. Everyone had to just sort of sit there in their bunks, wear masks and it's very different. The time goes by so slowly now, it's very, very different. It's like, you just stare at the clock."
There's been a question over whether or not you feel remorse about what happened the night of the accident, do you feel remorse?
"It was never intentional. I never sought anyone out. I never did anything like that. I was devastated then and I'm still devastated to this day. I feel horrible for my actions. I think of her [Helene] every day, I will never...I will think of her until the day I die. It will never go away."
What would you say to someone considering signing your mothers petition?
"I would say, if anything about getting a second chance and then having it taken away from you resonates with you or if my story sparks something in you that makes you wanna sign it, please sign it. Because I need to get home to my children."
Locane was resentenced in September 2020 by judge Angela Borkowski to eight years in prison for vehicular homicide in a drunk driving crash that killed 60-year-old Helene Seeman in 2010. This makes the fourth time the Melrose Place actress has been sentenced for the accident.
How can this happen?
According to the Associated Press, "An appeals court ruled that a different judge incorrectly resentenced her last year, and sent the case back for another sentencing. The ruling also rejected Locane’s argument that sentencing her again violates double jeopardy protections since she’s already completed her sentence and parole term."
How can this be?
Amy's attorney James Wronko told me in an email:
"The state filed an appeal with the appellate division each time saying sentence to lenient. Judge Borkowski, the last sentencing judge basically said all she did in the past 10 years meant zero. Only nature of offense counted. She was sent back to prison on September 17 after her last sentence. The appeal of that sentence by her is pending and could take up to a year depending on how quickly appellate division rules. I cannot comprehend how in our system of justice a decade of exemplary behavior is just ignored and plays no role in determining what a sentence should be."
Locane was convicted in November 2012 of second-degree vehicular homicide and assault by automobile. Although the minimum sentence was five years, the judge cut it down to three with three years of parole because of her clean record and the thought that her children would suffer if she were jailed longer.
According to Wronko, the state appealed and in June of 2015, Amy was released from prison. Amy then began turning her life around and began helping others.
She got involved with Hopewell Presbyterian Church, spoke at schools about the dangers of drinking and driving, became a life coach at City Of Angels which helps people battle addiction. Amy was instrumental in helping Artie Lange's decision to enter rehab. She wrote to me from prison saying she's able to listen on a radio that she has to move around to get a signal. She says she's "absolutely devastated over the situation."
Amy told me in the letter she wrote to me from prison, "It's so different in here this time. I wish the prosecutor and appellate division made this decision when I was already in here the last time. I don't understand why it took them eight and a half years to do this."
COVID has made things even harder for Amy, "We are quarantined often, there are no visits, I've seen my daughters once in five months."
The prison has been in the news last January with dozens suspended for beating inmates. Amy says she's never had any issues. The issue here is how many times can the state sentence someone for the same crime, even if they have to change judges to do it.
Attorney and legal commentator John Furlong believes the case is unprecedented and tells The Guardian, “I have practiced criminal law for nearly 45 years, and I have never seen an outcome or circumstance quite like Amy Locane’s,” he says. “When I was a young lawyer, we punished the guilty. We did not torture them. Times have changed. Amy Locane’s resentencing undermines public confidence in our entire criminal justice system. Lawyers and citizens alike lose confidence in the finality of judgment.”
Amy's mother Helen has started a petition to have Amy released. You can sign it here if you believe she has suffered enough.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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