Can A Crime Victim’s Relative Be Fair On Parole?


Winning a parole date is not easy for California murderers. Linda Ricchio, serving 27 years to life for killing her former lover, figures her odds of release are slim, the Los Angeles Times says. Susan Fisher, the sister of her 1987 victim, Ronald Ruse, sits on the state Board of Prison Terms – the very board scheduled to decide this week whether Ricchio is rehabilitated and deserves a second chance. Ricchio wants her bid for parole heard in court. For five years, Fisher directed a crime victims group now lobbying against the inmate’s release.

“Often, I think people in victims’ rights organizations tend to make judgments based on a particular offense, rather than assessing each case on its individual merits as the law requires,” said Donald Specter of the Prison Law Office, a nonprofit firm that monitors conditions for inmates. “That’s the concern.” Another nominee of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to the board stepped down in August amid warnings from Senate leaders that he would not win confirmation. Fisher is not the first parole board member related to a crime victim, but her leadership on behalf of victims makes her the most prominent. In the 1990s, the board had two commissioners – John Gillis and Steven Baker – who had lost a child to murder. Both men were members of Parents of Murdered Children.


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