An hour south of Miami, down the street from an alligator farm, a security guard buzzes visitors into the Homestead Correctional Institution. Each guest’s bags are run through a rickety metal detector and he or she is issued a panic button — a portable alarm that can be clipped to a waistband and pressed if an inmate attacks.
When the moderator informally polled the audience at a criminal justice discussion held at the New York Law School on whether probation and parole should be abolished, almost half the audience — mostly criminal justice practitioners and stakeholders — raised their hands.
It’s now been three years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Henry Montgomery should have a chance to earn parole, because he’d been a teenager at the time of his crime. But on Thursday, the Louisiana parole board voted against parole for Montgomery for the second time. So Montgomery, now 72, will remain in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, working five days a week at the prison silk-screen shop, as he has for decades. “I’m almost at a loss for words at how it is possible that Henry, yet again, was denied. One would have thought that he would be one of the first,” said Marsha Levick, chief legal officer of the Juvenile Law Center.
I murdered him. I stabbed him 51 times in his sleep, and now his name likely evokes in people close to him funny, warm and wonderful memories of a man they still love. And then it evokes pain because they remember, they realize suddenly after a happy thought and a smile that he was brutally taken from them for no real reason.