Kevorkian To Be Released Early; Disability Advocates Predict
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 19, 2006
COLDWATER, MICHIGAN--State corrections officials announced on December 13 that the Michigan Parole Board had agreed to release Jack Kevorkian on June 1, 2007, which is his earliest possible release date under his 10-25 year sentence for second-degree murder that he began serving in 1999.
The day after the announcement, Kevorkian attorney Mayer Morganroth sent a letter to Governor Jennifer Granholm, asking that his client be released even earlier because of his deteriorating health.
Granholm spokesperson Liz Boyd said the governor would wait to act until the Department of Corrections and the parole board have made their recommendations on Morganroth's request. Boyd added that Morganroth has made four similar requests since 2003 -- each of them claiming that Kevorkian had less than a year to live.
The disability rights group Not Dead Yet, which was originally formed in response to Kevorkian's assisted suicide crusade, released a statement on December 14, in which they predicted that, if Kevorkian were released early, he would likely go through a "near-miraculous" recovery -- at least enough for him to make numerous media appearances and speaking engagements. First on his list of public appearances would likely be Mike Wallace or Barbara Walters, who could be expected to do a "very sympathetic and biased interview" with Kevorkian, Not Dead Yet noted.
"They'll downplay his history of helping non-terminally ill disabled people commit suicide and portray him as some kind of martyr," Not Dead Yet wrote. "They won't mention his advocacy of lethal experimentation on death row prisoners or disabled infants at all."
Many disability rights advocates have long opposed Kevorkian and his public crusade to legalize assisted suicide. They have argued that doing so would essentially make it "open season" for people with disabilities who are often considered a "burden" on society -- particularly at a time when the cost of health care is high. They have also noted that many people Kevorkian "helped" end their lives were not in the final stages of terminal illnesses, but instead had disabilities and were in emotional, psychological or social crises, which made them more vulnerable.
Kevorkian was convicted in March 1999 of second-degree murder after 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 videotaped death on the "60 Minutes" CBS television news magazine. His release next June would come eight years into his sentence, with time reduced for good behavior.
Morganroth appealed to the state parole board earlier this year asking for Kevorkian to be pardoned, or his sentence to be commuted, because his doctors said the 78-year-old "Dr. Death" had a long list of other medical conditions, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, temporal arthritis, and active Hepatitis C, and would die in less than a year.
But the parole board recommended Kevorkian stay behind bars at least until next June. Granholm has consistently followed the board's recommendations regarding Kevorkian.
Kevorkian admitted helping at least 130 people to take their lives in a campaign to promote legalization of physician-assisted suicide. In May, he reportedly said that he now realizes he chose the wrong tactics, and instead should have lobbied "verbally" for legalization.
"Dr. Death Gets Out of Jail" by Wesley J. Smith (The Weekly Standard)
"2007 release of Dr. Kevorkian from Coldwater prison opposed" (The Daily Reporter)
"Prison time likely hasn't changed Kevorkian's mind" (The Oakland Press)
"Kevorkian videotaped the crime; he should still do more time" (Detroit News)
Not Dead Yet
"Jack Kevorkian -- 'Dr. Death'" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)