Dangerous Early Release

Stories That Specially Illustrate the Dangers of Releasing Teen Killers

Below is just a sampling of the many horrifying stories of recidivism – repeat violent offending by inmates upon early release from their sentences. While we try to focus on this page below on the argument from juvenile offender advocates that all juvenile extremely violent offenders deserve opportunities for early release (they clearly do not), we also want to highlight the larger problem across the criminal justice system.

This news story recently from the Chicago area tells the story well of not only the statistical dangers in early release of violent offenders, but also the difficult impact on victims families.

Criminal justice as a system is a delicate balancing act, trying to protect the interests of all concerned. What is the right balance between over-incarceration and not enough protection for the public from individuals that are clearly dangerous?

California is one good test case. Recently courts ordered their state prison population reduced to relieve overcrowding. (AB 109) The state could not afford to build more prisons and the releases began. See some of the results:


After several years of sharp declines seen locally and nationally, crime appears to be on the rise in the Sacramento area, according to new statistics from law enforcement. Violent crime and property crime each rose 7 percent in the city of Sacramento during the first six months of the year, compared with the same period in 2011. It’s the first time in six years that the city has seen an uptick in crime.Deputy Jason Ramos, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department, said a few factors could be contributing to the six-month spike, including AB 109, the state’s realignment plan moving state offenders to the county level, which has put more pressure on local resources. Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/08/09/4708245/sacramento-city-county-see-crime.html#storylink=cpy

1. Andrew Golden
Police: Arkansas school shooter applied for gun permit Associated Press – December 11, 2008 3:43 AM ET
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – “Police in Arkansas say a man who helped gun down four middle school students and a teacher when he was a child has applied for a concealed-carry permit under a different name. Andrew Golden’s application was filed under the name of Drew Grant. The application was denied. Golden listed a home address 55 miles from the city of Jonesboro, where he and a classmate lured students into gunfire in 1998 during a fake fire drill. Golden was 11 at the time. Golden changed his name after his release from prison last year. A judge has barred lawyers from releasing Golden’s new name or home address. Red flags were raised by the fingerprints provided during the application process and authorities say there are several other reasons why Golden’s application was rejected. Investigators are determining if inaccuracies listed in the rejected application warrant criminal charges.”

ED. NOTE: We include the full text of the story below because it is one of the best examples of why life without parole sentences need to mean life WITHOUT parole.
2. Maurice Clemmons

Teen convicted of four murders in Rochester, NY

17 year old violent offender paroled early from a 95 year sentences “because of his age” murders four police officers in Washington

November 30, 2009

Police are calling Maurice Clemmons, 37, a suspect in the fatal shooting of four officers on Sunday near Tacoma, Washington.Maurice Clemmons, 37, fatally shot four officers near Tacoma, Washington.


UPDATE December 1 – Clemmons is shot and killed by police after eluding the police

Seattle, Washington (CNN) (selections from the story)– A suspect in the shooting deaths of four police officers was not found in an east Seattle home where authorities had tracked him, police said Monday. Clemmons is sought in connection with what police called an “ambush” Sunday morning at a coffee shop near Tacoma in Pierce County. Four Lakewood police officers — three men and a woman — were shot to death. Authorities identified the victims as Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39; Officer Ronald Owens, 37; Officer Tina Griswold, 40; and Officer Greg Richards, 42. All four had been with the department since its inception, and all of them were parents.


The night before the shootings, Clemmons had threatened to kill police officers, but witnesses did not report those threats till after the slayings, Troyer told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Clemmons, 37, is a convicted criminal with a long rap sheet. He was recently charged in Pierce County in an assault on a police officer and rape of a child, according to a statement from the sheriff’s department. Clemmons was given a 95-year prison sentence in Arkansas in 1989 for a host of charges, including robberies, burglaries, thefts and bringing a gun to school. His sentence was commuted in 2000 by then-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, said Troyer. Huckabee, a Republican presidential candidate in 2008, is considering a run for president in 2012. “Should [Clemmons] be found responsible for this horrible tragedy, it will be the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington state,” Huckabee’s office said in a statement Sunday night.

Huckabee cited Clemmons’ young age — 17 at the time of his sentencing — when he announced his decision to commute the sentence, according to newspaper articles.

“It was not something I was pleased with at the time,” said Larry Jegley, who prosecuted Clemmons for aggravated robbery and other charges in Pulaski County, Arkansas. “I would be most distressed if this is the same guy.” Huckabee’s office said Clemmons’ commutation was based on the recommendation of the parole board that determined that he met the conditions for early release. He was arrested later for parole violation and taken back to prison to serve his full term, but prosecutors dropped the charges that would have held him,” the statement said. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper reported that a year after his release, Clemmons was arrested for aggravated robbery and theft. He was taken back to prison for parole violation. But, said the paper, he was not served with the arrest warrants for the robbery and theft charges until he left prison three years later, in 2004. His attorney argued the charges should be dismissed because too much time had passed by then. Prosecutors dropped the charges. Clemmons is thought to have moved to Washington that year, and for a while ran a pressure-washing and landscaping business. The license for the business expired last month, according to the secretary of state’s office, with which businesses have to register. In recent months, Clemmons has displayed increasingly erratic behavior, the Seattle Times reported. In May, he punched a sheriff’s deputy in the face, the paper said. In another incident, he had relatives undress, telling them families need to be “naked for at least five minutes on Sunday,” the newspaper said, citing a sheriff’s department incident report. Clemmons also believed he was Jesus and could fly, a deputy wrote, based on conversations with family members. After serving several months in jail on a pending charge of second-degree rape of a child, Clemmons was released on bond six days ago, according to the Seattle Times. Sunday’s shooting was the first for the Lakewood police department, which was created five years ago for the town of nearly 60,000. Until then, the Pierce County sheriff’s office provided law enforcement services there. The four officers were awaiting the start of their shift at a coffee shop that’s a popular hangout for law enforcement officers. They were in uniform and had marked patrol cars parked outside. The shop is in Parkland, an unincorporated community just south of Lakewood and about 10 miles from Tacoma.  The attack occurred without warning. The shooter walked past the officers to the counter as if to order coffee before he pulled the gun out of his coat and opened fire at 8:15 a.m., the sheriff’s office said. Two of the officers were “executed” as they sat at a table, said Troyer, the sheriff’s spokesman. Another was shot when he stood up and the fourth was shot after struggling with the gunman all the way out the door, Troyer said. Two baristas and other customers inside the shop were unharmed. “Just the law enforcement officers were targeted,” Troyer said, calling the shooting an ambush.”There’s not going to be a big motive other than he was upset about being incarcerated and was going to go gunning after cops in general,” Troyer told reporters on Monday.

NOVJL Commentary on the Maurice Clemmons case:
This is exactly the reason that we believe parole is an unreliable system that endangers the public. Our organization is standing nationally this tragic day with our warnings vindicated but with more sadness than words can say, especially for the orphaned children of the murdered police officers.

3. Ohio Juvenile Judge’s Bad Decision Leads to Murder

September 18, 2008

Columnist: OH Juvenile Judge Should Resign For Freeing Killer

Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Phillip Morris is urging the resignation of a juvenile court judge, Alison Nelson Floyd, for releasing a suspect who then murdered a fellow teen. Morris says Floyd “should acknowledge that instead, she gambled with the public’s safety by releasing an increasingly dangerous teen hours before he killed” a 17-year-old boy. Floyd “rolled the dice on a violent juvenile, who had been aggressively working his way up to murder,” says Morris. Before releasing a 17-year-old delinquent charged with the killing, a juvenile probation officer pleaded with Floyd to lock the boy up. She described the 17-year-old as a threat to the community. The boy, who has been on probation since February for several assaults, intimidation of a witness, carrying a knife and counterfeit drugs, had stopped going to school or following the curfew that Floyd had set for him. Morris says Floyd discounted the concerns of the probation officer and the fact that he was defying her own terms of probation. “What is the point of the probation department in her world?,” Morris asks. The judge also discounted the pleas of the boy’s mother to lock her son up.

Link: http://www.cleveland.com/morris/index.ssf/2008/09/after_fatal_call_judge_should.html

4. Lionel Tate in Florida

After brutally murdering 6 year old Tiffany Eunick, and being sentenced to life as an adult, Tate accepted a plea deal he earlier had rejected and was paroled at age 19. He was promptly re-arrested for armed robbery of a pizza delivery man and has been sentenced to 30 more years.

5. Scott Darnell

After this multiple repeat violent juvenile offender whose sex offenses and threats to kill were KNOWN by the Illinois juvenile probation program supposed to be monitoring, he raped and murdered 10 year old Victoria Larson, because he had been given early release from his other crimes. Victoria’s mother sued the state for failing to do their job in letting the offender, and improperly supervising him when they did. Accounts of what he did to Victoria and other young girls he raped are too gruesome to publish here. Now he is serving a life sentence as an adult but is trying to obtain early release again, saying that he has found redemption as a Buddhist. Our view: this man deserves to be punished for the rest of his life. And if he is rehabilitated in any genuine way, he should only care for setting the minds of Victoria’s family at ease by accepting his punishment, and not further threatening them as he has with his efforts to free himself. What we know about child sex predators from science is that they are never “cured”. Would you let this man live next to your family? The life sentence is appropriate.

6.  Louis Gomez from Los Angeles County, CaliforniaTwo years after Gomez was sentence to lwop for his role in a 1994 murder, he killed again. He stabbed his fellow  inmate Abe Mendibles in a prison classroom on April 13, 1998. His jlwop sentence was for his role in a felony murder during a commision of a robbery. He receiverd a second consecutive lwop sentence for the prison murder in which he stabbed the victim 14 times.

7. Oscar Mora from La CountyMora fatally shot 3 victims and wounded a fourth victim and was sentenced to jlwop (3 jlwop terms). He has subsequently given another consecutive 25 years to life term after being convicted of being a prisoner in possession of two knives.

8. Kristopher Kirchner

Kirchner was sentenced to life without possibility of parole for the brutal murder of Ross Elvey during the commission of a robbery of his commercial business. The victim was brutally beaten with a metal pipe, sustaining 25 skull fractures and dying after being in a coma for forty one days. Since being incarcerated for life without possibility of parole for the murder of  Mr. Elvey, Kirchner has been convicted of attempted murder of another inmate at Folsom State Prison.  Kristopher Kirchner  and another inmate Jayson Weaver attacked and stabbed a fellow inmate. The entire incident was videotaped, and the videotape was played for the jury. Kirchner was  found guilty of assault by a life prisoner with a deadly weapon and possession by an inmate of a weapon.  Kirchner was sentenced to a term of 25 years to life plus nine years for  enhancements., both to run consecutive to his jlwop sentence.

9. Milwaukee Teen Killers Released Early and Kill Again

http://www.jsonline.com/news/crime/128857273.html Teen offenders already involved in previous killing are released by negligent juvenile supervisors and murder again.

10. Robert A. Williams – New York

NOVJL offers this graphic description of a teen killer who was tried and sentenced as a juvenile, which meant he was released at the age of adulthood. Here are the consequences of that horrible decision to release this dangerous man:

Published: June 6, 2008

The time crept by so slowly and painfully that the 23-year-oldColumbia University journalism student had decided it was time to end her life. Over many torturous hours, she had been repeatedly raped, sodomized and forced to perform oral sex, a prosecutor told a jury on Thursday. The accused, Robert A. Williams, 31, had doused the woman’s face and body with boiling water and bleach, forced her to swallow handfuls of pills and to chase them with beer, sealed her mouth with glue, and bound her wrists and legs with shoelaces, cords and duct tape, said the prosecutor, Ann P. Prunty. And now, Ms. Prunty said, he was asking the woman to gouge out her own eyes with a pair of scissors. And so the woman, sitting on the floor of her studio apartment in Hamilton Heights and holding a pair of scissors between her knees — the blade pointing toward her face — tried to stop the suffering. She lowered her face to the blade, but turned her head at the last moment, trying to stab herself in the neck instead of her eyes. The scissors slipped from her grasp, the suicide attempt failed, and the woman suffered several more hours of torture, Ms. Prunty said. The woman survived the nearly 19-hour ordeal, which ended, Ms. Prunty said, when she used a fire started by Mr. Williams to burn the cords that secured her wrists to a futon. Mr. Williams went on trial Thursday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, where he faces 71 criminal counts, including attempted murder, rape, arson and assault. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison. Mr. Williams, who was homeless at the time of his arrest about a week later at the scene of a burglary in Queens, has a lengthy police record dating to his childhood, the authorities have said. He was charged in a murder as a juvenile, though the outcome of that case is sealed, a law enforcement official said, and he spent eight years in prison for an attempted-murder conviction in 1996. The prosecution began presenting its case with Ms. Prunty’s vivid, step-by-step account of the attack, which she said began about 10 p.m. on April 13, 2007, and lasted until 4 p.m. the following afternoon. Mr. Williams’s lawyer, Arnold J. Levine, did not make an opening statement. Outside the courtroom, Mr. Levine declined to talk about his strategy. In hearings before the trial, he seemed to indicate that he would challenge witnesses’ identification of his client. The victim and several witnesses in the six-story apartment building where the woman lived picked out Mr. Williams from lineups, Ms. Prunty said. She said that DNA evidence also linked him to the crime. Justice Carol Berkman, who is presiding over the trial, found in October that Mr. Williams was mentally fit for trial. After that decision, Mr. Levine said he was considering a mental illness defense. As Ms. Prunty delivered her opening statement, Mr. Williams sat slouched in his chair, with his head tilted downward. On the night of the attack, the victim, a month from graduating with a master’s degree, was at Columbia, putting the final touches on her résumé for a job fair the next day, Ms. Prunty said. When she arrived at her apartment building, she got on the elevator and found Mr. Williams inside, Ms. Prunty said. She rode with him to her floor, and could hear him follow her as she navigated the long L-shaped hallway to her apartment. As the woman entered her apartment, Ms. Prunty said, Mr. Williams asked her if she knew where a Mrs. Evans lived. The woman stopped to answer. “Her kind moment of hesitation would cost her,” Ms. Prunty said. Mr. Williams forced his way into the apartment, Ms. Prunty said, put the woman in a chokehold, and slapped her cellphone from her hand. Mr. Williams slammed the door behind him, and “her Friday the 13th nightmare began,” Ms. Prunty said. Mr. Williams turned a clock by the woman’s bed to the wall and made her take off her watch so she would not know what time it was, Ms. Prunty said. He raped her repeatedly and cut her hair because “he wanted to see her face, her fear and humiliation.” He made her sit in her bathtub, and that was the first time he told her to gouge her eyes, Ms. Prunty said. He punished her for refusing by boiling water in a kettle and throwing it on her, the prosecutor said. The water jolted her so much that she broke through the bonds on her wrist, Ms. Prunty said, as the skin on her chest, torso and thighs blistered. (On hearing this detail, one of the jurors shook his head and covered his mouth.) “Just kill me! Just kill me!” the woman pleaded, Ms. Prunty said. Later, after her failed attempt to kill herself with the scissors, Mr. Williams threw a heavy object at the back of her head, cracking her skull, Ms. Prunty said. Mr. Williams was intent on damaging her vision because, Ms. Prunty said, “a blind witness could never identify her attacker.” Mr. Williams eventually slit the woman’s eyelids and face with a butcher knife, Ms. Prunty said, but she did not lose her vision. He fastened her legs and arms to a futon, and she lost consciousness. When she awoke, she again pleaded for him to kill her, but heard no response. He was gone. Mr. Williams “only stopped when he could no longer feel the scourge of control over another human being,” Ms. Prunty said. The woman smelled smoke, Ms. Prunty said, so she wriggled her legs free and pulled the futon away from the wall. She used the fire to free her arms, Ms. Prunty said, and then ran through the smoke to her door. It took her several attempts to open it because her hands were limp and numb, Ms. Prunty said. The woman ran through her hallway seeking help, Ms. Prunty said, “an image of the walking, living dead.”

Other coverage of this case


The dark journey of David Pederson is chronicled in this lengthy article from Portland, Oregon. After release from prison at age 30 for violent crimes he committed as a teen, he went on a killing spree. Too long to reproduce here, this article is a chilling analysis of what goes wrong when we prioritize the desire to release offenders over public safety concerns.

There are many more . . .this is just a sample . . .