For Immediate Release March 20, 2014
Contact: Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins, 312-882-4584; Dora Larson 815-514-4933
Murder Victims’ Families of Teen Killers
Sentenced to Life in Prison in Illinois
React to Illinois Supreme Court Ruling
(Chicago)- Today the Illinois Supreme Court issued its ruling in a case that has been watched closely by the handful of affected murder victims’ families made aware of the importance of the case to their lives. Long-suffering families are deeply hurt and horrified that the Illinois Supreme Court has not protected the legal finality of our loved ones’ murder cases. Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins, whose sister, brother-in-law, and their unborn child were murdered by a juvenile offender who received both mandatory and discretionary life sentences for the triple murder, said, “This ruling today means no hope for peace and quiet for my family and especially my widowed Mother who has been emotionally devastated by the re-emergence of the killer into our lives recently. We can only look forward now to many sleepless nights.”
The United States Supreme Court ruled in June 2012 in Miller v Alabama that life sentences for teen killers can no longer be mandatory. They did not state that this ruling should be applied retroactively. Even so, many of the 1300 teen killers sentenced to life nationally filed challenges attempting to re-open their sentences. In Illinois that issue is now decided in the Cook County case of offender Addolfo Davis. Legal experts citing long-standing precedent in the “Teague Rule” say that the Supreme Court ruling is not retroactive. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling applies legally to cases still open under direct appeal and future cases. In the entire history of U.S. Supreme Court on such criminal justice matters only ONE case has ever been held to be retroactive – the famed Gideon v Wainwright case that gave defendants the right to an attorney.
Currently there are approximately 100 cases of “juvenile lifers” in Illinois that committed highly aggravated murders. Well-funded offender advocates have been providing legal representation for these killers to attempt to re-open these finalized cases retroactively. They have also been pushing legislation in Springfield that would not only re-open these 100 cases, but would extend the notion to ALL extremely violent offenders who before they were 18 committed horrific felonies that earned them long term adult sentences. When our victim organization asked about the cost to Illinois residents in taxes to pay for all these re-opening of long settled cases, and also the risk to public safety and the re-traumatization to victims families, their spokesperson Jobi Cates of Human Rights Watch told us, “we believe the system can absorb the cost.” NOVJL Illinois leader Dora Larson, whose 10 year old daughter Vicki was raped and murdered by a 15 year old “juvenile lifer” in Illinois said, “The callousness and mean-spirited tactics of these offender advocates towards our families has been hurtful to watch. The legal nightmare continues for us.”
NOVJL’s victim stories, extensive research on juveniles who kill, national news, debunking of offender advocates false claims about brain science, and more is available at the NOVJL website, www.teenkillers.org. As NOVJL’s membership has grown nationally, we are changing our name to NOVJM, the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers.
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Harvard Professor James Q. Wilson “Thinking About Crime”:". . . some persons will shun crime even if we do nothing to deter them, while others will seek it out even if we do everything to reform them. Wicked people exist. Nothing avails except to set them apart from innocent people. And many people, neither wicked nor innocent, but watchful, dissembling, and calculating of their opportunities, ponder our reaction to wickedness as a cue to what they might profitably do. We have trifled with the wicked, made sport of the innocent, and encouraged the calculators. Justice suffers, and so do we all."