New Zealand Law Society - One year in prison for each year of Lennon’s life

One year in prison for each year of Lennon’s life

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The killer of former Beatle John Lennon will have served nearly 40 years (38) in prison before he is again eligible for parole.

Ironically, that is almost one year for each year of the life of the musician who was assassinated by Mark David Chapman on 8 December 1980.

The other irony is that Lennon's killer will be nearly 64 (63) by August 2018 when he will again appear before the New York State Board of Parole.

Freedom was denied for the 9th time when Mark David Chapman appeared before the Board on 24 August.

The story of John Lennon's death has been immortalised. Mark Chapman staked out the Manhattan apartment building where Lennon lived with his wife, Yoko Ono, and their son, Sean.

Lennon signed a copy of his latest album Double Fantasy for Chapman as he and Ono were leaving their home.

Chapman said he was influenced by the character Holden Caulfield in the book The Catcher in the Rye who throughout the story referred to some people as phony, an opinion of John Lennon that Chapman held despite being a fan of the musician.

That album included the singles, Just like starting over, Woman and Watching the Wheels.

But that was Lennon's last studio album as Mark Chapman waited until the couple returned to their home that night and shot Lennon in the back with a revolver five times outside New York's Dakota apartment building.

The full parole report as to why Chapman remains incarcerated at Wende Correctional Facility won't be released for up to six weeks.

But the Board of Parole did release this statement in relation to their decision not to release Chapman:

"The Board of Parole commends your acceptance of responsibility and vivid characterization of your crime as premeditated, selfish and evil. We appreciate your responses and statements during the interview that assisted us in gaining information that only you could provide.

"We have considered your network of support and release plans. We have considered your institutional records and rehabilitative efforts. We have factored your custody status and personal efforts to study and educate yourself. We have considered your work assignments within the correctional facility, case plan, program goals and accomplishments. We have considered official opposition, your disciplinary record and lack of prior criminal history.

"In spite of many favourable factors, we find all to be outweighed by the premeditated and celebrity seeking nature of the crime. From our interview and review of your records, we find that your release would be incompatible with the welfare of society and would so deprecate that seriousness of the crime as to undermine respect for the law. Accordingly, we deny your release to supervision in the community," the Board of Parole says.

How does the Board of Parole assess an inmate before deciding whether to grant release?

The Board of Parole has 14 members. Each person is appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate for a six-year term.

Making Release Determinations

The Board determines which inmates serving indeterminate sentences in state prison may be released on Parole. The Executive Law (Section 259-i (2) (a)) requires the Board to personally interview inmates eligible for release. Inmates do not have the right to counsel at release interviews. The typical panel consists of two or three board members who are responsible for, interviewing the inmate, reviewing summary reports prepared by facility parole officers and determining whether the inmate will be released to parole supervision.

All decisions of Board panels and Administrative Hearing Officers may be appealed. These appeals are made directly to the Parole Board. Also, the Board, at the Governor's request, interviews clemency applicants and makes recommendations to the Governor. The Board delegates its statutory authority to investigate requests to the Division's Executive Clemency Unit.