Parole Board Denies Kevorkian Early Release, Again
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 9, 2004
LANSING, MICHIGAN--A little more than a month after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by Jack Kevorkian, the Michigan Parole Board has refused to consider a request that he be released from prison early for medical reasons.
According to the Associated Press, the board said the request by Kevorkian attorney Mayer Morganroth was essentially the same as the one they rejected a year ago. The 10-member parole board is not required to consider such a request until after two years have lapsed since the previous one.
Kevorkian, 76, was sentenced to 10 to 25 years in prison after being convicted in 1999 of second-degree murder. The assisted-suicide campaigner would first become eligible for parole in 2007.
Morganroth said he was surprised at the decision because the 2003 request focused on his claim that Kevorkian did not receive a fair trial, while the most recent request was based entirely on Kevorkian's health. Morganroth said his client has a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, arthritis, a double hernia, cataracts and hepatitis C. He asked the board to recommend Governor Jennifer Granholm pardon Kevorkian or commute his sentence.
Morganroth said he would be going directly to the governor to make his case.
Granholm spokesperson Liz Boyd said, however, that is not likely Granholm would grant the request, considering the parole board's decision.
"Mr. Morganroth can do what he wants," Boyd said, "(but) she followed the recommendation of the parole board a year ago, and it's my understanding this will not come before the governor because not enough time has passed."
Corrections officials said last month that commutations based on medical reasons are usually only granted for inmates who are expected to live for less than a year.
By his own admission, Kevorkian assisted at least 130 people to kill themselves as part of his crusade to make doctor-assisted suicide legal in the United States. He was finally convicted for inducing the death of Thomas Youk, a man who had amyotropic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Kevorkian's conviction came after replaying Youk's video-taped death on the "60 Minutes" television news magazine.
Kevorkian is currently serving his sentence at the Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer, Michigan. He has promised not to assist in any more suicides if released.
Many disability rights advocates have long opposed Kevorkian and his crusade to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia. They have argued that doing so would essentially make it "open season" for people with disabilities and anyone else who is considered undesirable or a "burden" on society -- particularly at a time when the cost of health care is high. They have pointed out that most of those Kevorkian helped end their lives were in emotional, psychological or social crises, not in the final stages of terminal illnesses as was originally believed.
"Jack Kevorkian: Dr. Death" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)
"The suicide machine" (Detroit Free Press)
Not Dead Yet