This week Gregory Powell was denied parole for the twelfth time by the California Board of Prisons, for the kidnapping and execution style murder of Los Angeles police officer Ian Campbell during a traffic stop in Hollywood 47 years ago. The case was made famous in Joseph Wambaugh’s bestselling book The Onion Field and the movie by the same name.
Powell and co-defendant Jimmy Lee Smith were originally sentenced to death for the crime, but their sentences were commuted to life in prison after the death penalty was outlawed in the 1970s. When the death penalty was reinstated, their commutations to life stood. Jimmy Lee Smith died in prison in 2007.
So what does life in prison really mean? In most states, the minimum time a convict must serve before they can apply for parole is 10-25 years, unless the sentence is life without parole.
I think that’s ridiculous! Powell and Smith both should have been executed, as their original sentences called for. Failing that, a sentence of life in prison should indeed mean life. The policeman Gregory Powell murdered in cold blood is still dead. His family still grieves for him. Why the hell should the animal that killed him ever be allowed to be free? Time does not heal all wounds.
I am a firm believer in capital punishment. I believe that once a person is sentenced to death there should be a speedy appeals process, and then the sentence should be carried out. I do not believe in second chances for crimes like murder, rape, and child abuse.
Yes, I know that there have been people convicted of crimes that were later proven innocent. Compared to the overall prison population, those numbers are miniscule. Of course, that doesn’t help if you are one of the rare innocent persons convicted of a crime.
But, I also know there are thousands of sociopaths behind bars who should never be set loose on society again, and I do not believe that we should pay to keep them forever. But, if we are going to sentence them to life in prison, make it life and do not hold parole hearings for them!
I do have a very personal reason for my feelings on this issue. When I was sixteen years old, my older brother was robbed and murdered in front of his wife and children. The thug who killed him was my age, and he was sent to a reformatory until he was eighteen. He served less than two years for a crime that destroyed my family! He was released and was only out a short time before being arrested again, this time for stabbing somebody, who survived the attack. But soon after he was released for that crime, the same psychopath murdered his own mother! What good does keeping an animal like that alive do for anybody?
We need to enforce the laws we have. A death sentence should be just that, death. And life in prison should be until the day a convicted person dies.
Tags: appeals process, arrested, behind bars, California Board of Prisons, capital punishment, child abuse, convict, convicted person, crime, death penalty, denied parole, execution, execution style murder, Hollywood, Jimmy Lee Smith, Joseph Wambaugh, kidnapping, life in prison, life without parole, Los Angeles police officer Ian Campbell, murder, murderer Gregory Powell, parole, parole hearings, policeman, prison population, psychopath, rape, reformatory, robbed and murdered, sentenced to death, sociopaths, The Onion Field