Sirhan B. Sirhan, the individual convicted of assassinating Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 faced a parole board for the 16th time on August 27, 2021. In that meeting, the two-person panel determined that Sirhan was suitable for release following 53 years of being imprisoned and having his requests for parole rejected 15 times.
Now the parole board staff and maybe even the full board will review the decision. They have 90 days to make a definitive decision. Unlike previous occasions, no prosecutor stood up to oppose the release of Sirhan, who is now 77 years of age. Sirhan was arrested on the spot after he shot Kennedy in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968. Sirhan received a first-degree murder conviction and was originally slated to receive a death sentence.
Sirhan’s sentence was eventually knocked down to a life sentence with the possibility of parole thanks to the state of California’s decision to abolish the death penalty. After being imprisoned for 53 years, Sirhan may finally have a way out as California has become one of the epicenters of liberalized criminal release policies. One of those measures is the release of convicts who have served decades in prison and no longer pose a threat to society and whose medical costs may be too much of a burden for taxpayers. Under these circumstances, prosecutors will either push for the release or oppose the release of inmates who allegedly no longer pose a threat to society.
Under the leadership (or lack thereof) of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, there has been a greater emphasis on using lax sentencing and release standards for criminals and prisoners alike. Gascón previously revealed his desire to establish a sentencing review unit to look over the cases of 20,000 prisoners and consider potentially re-sentencing them.
Gascón recently issued a directive outlining his office’s “default policy”, in which his office would not attend parole hearings and instead submit letters backing the release of some inmates who had finished serving their mandatory minimums. while also assisting victims and victim advocates at parole hearings if requested.
In the case of Sirhan, Gascón’s office has remained neutral. In other words, the office did not attend the parole hearing nor did it not send a letter in favor of Sirhan’s parole.
For many liberals, Sirhan’s actions were unforgivable. At the time, many viewed RFK as the Democratic frontrunner and the most credible contender against Richard Nixon in the 1968 presidential election. RFK’s progressive vision and his staunch anti-war stances were seen as a way forward for the nation. In assassinating him, Sirhan deprived many progressive voters of a candidate that could have made an attempt to realize their fantastical vision. Sirhan, a Palestinian immigrant, was allegedly angered by RFK’s support of Israel, which prompted him to assassinate the Democratic Senator according to the official narrative of the events.
While prisoners like Sirhan have perhaps shown good records while incarcerated, many criminals should remain behind bars and then some. Prosecutors like Gascón are already notorious for pushing jailbreak policies that let hardened criminals loose.
Most of the sob stories used to push for criminal justice reform are ruses to justify even laxer criminal sentencing and imprisonment policies that endanger the general public. To be sure, there are certain drug possession crimes that should not merit hard prison time. However, many other violent crimes should come with zero-tolerance responses and not be handled in a light manner. Liberty conservatives should not fall for the scam that is criminal justice reform.