Kennedy Family Disagreement on Sirhan Parole

In last week’s post, I noted the press report that two of Sen. Robert Kennedy’s children spoke in favor of the parole of assassin Sirhan Sirhan. Turns out those two were definitely not speaking for the family as a whole. AP reports:

BOSTON — Former congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II, the oldest son of Robert F. Kennedy, denounced the possible parole of the man convicted of killing his father in California in 1968.

“Two commissioners of the 18-member California Parole Board made a grievous error last Friday in recommending the release of the man who murdered my father,” Kennedy wrote in the emailed statement released Sunday. “I understand that there are differing views about ending the sentence of this killer, including within my own family. But emotions and opinions do not change facts or history.”

Rory Kennedy is the youngest. She was born posthumously and never knew her father. She tweeted the following letter from “six of Robert Kennedy’s nine surviving children.” Click on the thumbnail for the full size version.

There is some disagreement as to how much the views of the victim’s family should matter in determining punishment. I think those views should be considered, though they are not controlling.

Was the parole board aware that most of the family was opposed to parole when they heard the two who were in favor? I don’t know. I do know that we had a failure of advocacy by the office that has taken the lead in opposing parole all these years — the Los Angeles District Attorney. Hopefully the recall will succeed and LA will not be stuck with this DA too much longer.

As for the parole of Sirhan, I do hope that Governor Elder or Governor Faulconer blocks it. I don’t hold out much hope for the incumbent doing the right thing on this or any criminal justice issue. He hasn’t yet.