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"Life... don't talk to me about life."

I don't believe I missed this story last week.

Massachusetts, like many states, doesn't have a death penalty. (We do in New Hampshire, but it hasn't been used since the 1930's.) The strictest punishment is life without possibility of parole.

To the opponents of capital punishment, they say this is a far better deterrant than death. The thought of having to spend the rest of one's natural life a prisoner of the state, forever locked up with no hope of freedom, just the same four walls day after day, month after month, year after year, until you finally die, is to many people a far more terrifying thought than the relatively quick, painless lethal injection. It's a compelling argument.

Except, of course, when it's complete and utter bullshit.

According to the Boston Herald, 171 convicted murderers, sentenced to life without parole, have been given that impossible parole over the last three years. That's one murderer a week getting freedom, with an additional five per year as a little bonus.

The chair of the Massachusetts Parole Board is quoted.

"It's easy to say 'Lock them up and throw away the key,' but that system just does not work," said Maureen Walsh, chairwoman of the seven-member Massachusetts Parole Board. "It's incumbent upon us to make a decision on whether a person has been rehabilitated. There is not one simple solution. "It's not about being tough on crime or soft on crime. It's about being rational," Walsh added. "It's an awesome responsibility. You are always going to be making a decision that disappoints."

Massachusetts apparently has a slight problem with the English language. When a judge says "without possibility of parole," that jurist is actually saying "without possibility for parole within 15 years."

Say what you want about the death penalty, at least it's honest. There's no "you're going to be executed, but some time down the road you can petition for resurrection and release."

And for the families of the victims, they don't have to worry about some idiots on a parole board "re-interpreting" the sentence some time down the road.

Comments (13)

When someone says, "It's no... (Below threshold)

When someone says, "It's not about being tough on crime or soft on crime," you know it's about being soft on crime.

So Walsh decides to "diappo... (Below threshold)

So Walsh decides to "diappoint the family of victims" and the jurys that convicted them rather then "disappoint" a convicted murderer and turn down their parole.
She and Her ilk are the reason why the "system does not work."

Like the title, Marvin.... (Below threshold)

Like the title, Marvin.

I wonder how many, if DNA t... (Below threshold)

I wonder how many, if DNA testing on exhumed executees is one day done, innocent men and women
have been executed with NO chance of release from prison?

What is it about Massachuse... (Below threshold)

What is it about Massachusetts that inspires such insanity? Why is a parole board reviewing a life without parole sentence?

Someday soon this is one of... (Below threshold)

Someday soon this is one of the actions that will be the straw that breaks the camels back and the "people" will start taking their own action. Will the same prison systems keep those who kill the released murderers (who killed their family members) and those that released them in prison for life without parole? Soon no one will trust the failed justice system, if anyone really does today. Kind of like the failed education systems, only more dangerous.

One thing that you can get ... (Below threshold)

One thing that you can get nearly 100% support on is the idea of a true "life without parole."

In many places (see article), they screw around and don't really manage it due to loopholes in the sentencing scheme. It's easy enough: make it a special case, and completely disallow the parole board from even hearing the cases of people who get the true "life sentence." If the jury and judge want to keep the possibility open, just have a very long sentence (100 years should do it for most folks) to allow the possibility of letting the guy out somewhere down the line.

I've against the death penalty, mostly because people keep screwing it up, and a mistake in the case means killing someone for a crime they didn't commit (and yes, it's happened, and yes, it will keep happening). People just aren't that smart yet.

I am not sure from reading ... (Below threshold)

I am not sure from reading the article that Life-Witout-Parole were included in the parolees. Yes, there were murderers, but the only mention of LWOP was for someone who was STILL incarcerated.

Still, 15yrs seems like a light sentence for the ultimate theft.

More proof of the growing "... (Below threshold)

More proof of the growing "Cold Civil War" in America today. It looks like Mass is having a compitition with California for which state wins the crown of Biggest Liberal Losers. Trouble is, it's the law abiding American citizen that gets screwed in the end. Criminals have more rights than law abiding citizens any more.

Kristin is correct and Jay ... (Below threshold)

Kristin is correct and Jay Tea is incorrect. The Boston Herald article was written in a very misleading way in order to shock their readers. This is the definition of muckraking journalism, at which the Herald excels. None of those released on parole were convicted of first-degree murder. The Herald would have done a service by examining the propensity of prosecutors to offer plea bargains to violent offenders instead of implying that those sentenced to Life Without Parole are ever actually paroled. All those convicted of first-degree muder in Massachusetts receive Life Without Parole, and the only ones ever released are those who are later found to have been wrongly convicted (of which there have been several).

To the opponents o... (Below threshold)
To the opponents of capital punishment, they say this is a far better deterrant [sic] than death.

Deterrence and rehabilitation are red herrings. Criminal punishment is first and foremost about protecting society. Sometimes that protection comes through deterrent means such as fines, probation, or community service if the crime is not a serious threat to society. Prison on the other hand is certainly about removing a person who is a danger to society from society. That should be the one and only consideration for deciding whether a criminal should go to prison and for how long. People who commit heinous acts like murder or child molestation obviously do not fear any deterrent offered by society (i.e. shame and ostricization) or God (i.e. hell and damnation). Therefore it is incumbent upon us to remove those individuals either through imprisonment or death. Should the possibility of imprisonment or death deter an individual who would otherwise be inclined to commit a crime then that is only a benificial side effect.

Well, I wrote to the report... (Below threshold)

Well, I wrote to the reporter and have yet to receive a reply back - but its only been less than an hour.

I suspect that Charles Wilton has the right picture here as far as the folks who were paroled weren't LWP. The point made in the article he didn't mention was how a fair number of the folks paroled had plea bargained down their charges. Thus at least a few folks who might have been guilty of 1st degree murder pled down and avoided the LWP, and did get paroled. That is the concern stated in the article that is accurate and appropriate.

Who are these parole board ... (Below threshold)
Kimyl Oh!:

Who are these parole board members that want to free murderers? Ignoring the fact that most people over 25 are not a grave threat to the community (something like 70% of violent crime is committed by 16-25 year old men), what would be their incentive to free a murderer from prison who might kill someone again? These people live in the state. Parole board members are not gated community millionaires with private security forces. These are rational people who look at a 40+ convicted murderer to see if they are rehabilitated, contrite, etc.

And Massachusetts is not trying to win some contest for liberal losers, they are looking for progress. Progress means improving things like the health care system, civil rights for gays, and not killing people (like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and other less civilized countries).

What is the saying? A Democrat is a Republican who has just been arrested. A Republican is a Democrat who has just been robbed.






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