Parole Protests for Murderers
Many murderers receive sentences that seem incredibly light for the taking of a life, but statistics bear out that murderers serve an average of only eight years in prison. For many survivors of murder victims, there will come a time when you receive notification that the killer of your loved one is going to be reviewed for parole. There are several things you can do to enhance the chances of keeping these killers in prison where they belong.
|The very first thing you need to do, if you haven’t already, is to find out if there is a Victims’ Services division in your state. If so, contact them immediately and determine what your rights are. Are family members of the victim allowed to attend a parole hearing in person? Can the family members submit their protest via videotape? Can you request that if an inmate is denied parole, his next review will be delayed by one or two years more than the normal year? What is the deadline for submitting protest petitions and letters?|
|Develop and circulate petitions in your community and ask every single friend of your loved one to do the same. Include a brief description of the murder and information about what was lost with your loved one’s murder. Line the paper with a space for name, address, city, state and zip for each signer. Print in large, bold type that neither inmates nor their attorneys are allowed to read the letters in their files and they will be kept confidential.|
|Personal letters of protest are much more effective and should be written by each family member and anyone else who was impacted by the murder. People who did not know your loved one can also write personal protest letters, from the standpoint of citizens who have an interest in keeping our streets safe.|
|Contact the prosecutors from the trial and any homicide investigators who worked on the case and ask them to write a letter of protest.|
|We can build and host a memorial page for your loved one at www.murdervictims.com This can include photographs, poems, anything you and other family members want, and can request that letters be sent to protest the killer’s release.|
|When you and other family members write your letters, you can request that the murderer be denied parole and given a “set-off” which means that you will not have to repeat this process again for two or three years, depending on your state.|
|Include copies of candid-type photos of your loved one living their life, happy, smiling, with other family members or pets, so that he/she becomes a person to the parole board members who will review the letters, not just another victim. We believe these types of photographs are much more impacting than a portrait-type photograph.|
|There is an organization in California that publishes a wonderful newsletter and one of their main focuses is to assist in parole protests for murderers. Their name is Citizens Against Homicide and the email address is [email protected] – Jane Alexander is who you can address your email to. They need to receive information at least four weeks prior to the parole hearing in order to have time to put it in the newsletter and for the protest letters to be delivered.|
|Suggestions from a family who has been through this – Since most parole boards are tied in some way to governors or legislators, seek the help of these politicians. Most politicians would like to appear tough on crime, and it hardly could be easier than by supporting efforts against parole of killers. And when the politician comes through – make his day or his month with appropriate and public praise. And hammer those who won’t help. This is beyond politics in the ordinary sense – Keeping these killers locked up will win my vote over almost all other issues combined.|
|Also publicize the hearings! Many newspapers are only too happy to rehash a brutal murder and interview survivors – even years later. Sometimes it’s the first time anyone has heard from the survivors, and their stories are usually gripping. A few well placed articles will generate a flood of anti-parole feeling and letters to a parole board.
Guidelines for writing an effective Parole Protest letter
Victim Description Begin with a description of the life of the victim before the crime
Include the name of your loved one, their age, accomplishments and plans for the future
Survivors List the people that were left behind by this crime
What relationship does each person have to the victim What has been the impact of this loss on each specific person
Personal loss, monetary loss, therapy required, etc.
Crime Description Detail the circumstances of the murder
Unnecessary Heinousness Personal culpability of killer Lack of mitigating circumstances
Parole Impact Describe the impact that the perpetrator’s parole would have on your family
Fear for personal safety Threats made against survivors Make clear any knowledge the perpetrator might have of the family
Inmate Information Tell the parole board as much as you can about the perpetrator
Was the perpetrator someone that the victim, or the victim’s family or friends knew before the murder? Do you know where the perpetrator would reside if he/she were to be paroled? Is it near any family or friends of the victim? Detail any prior criminal record of the perpetrator
Parole Restrictions Request certain restrictions
Ask for parole eligibility to be deferred for the maximum amount allowed in your state if this parole is denied. If the perpetrator is paroled, ask for restrictions to be placed on his parole that will keep him from entering the proximity of any survivors.