Sirhan Sirhan, who has been incarcerated for 53 years for the 1968 assassination of New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, is seeking parole for the 16th time. But for the first time, no prosecutor will stand to oppose the 77-year-old’s release, the Washington Post reports. Originally sentenced to death for Kennedy’s killing, Sirhan’s sentence was reduced to life with the possibility of parole when California abolished the death penalty. Now, Sirhan may benefit from the policies of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, who, like other progressive prosecutors, opposes the continued incarceration of convicts who have served decades behind bars, no longer pose a threat to society and will be costly to treat medically in their later years. Gascón’s office is remaining neutral in Sirhan’s case, pledging to attend the parole hearing but announcing he won’t send a letter in support of Sirhan’s parole.
In 2018, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. told The Washington Post that he thought that Sirhan hadn’t killed his father, saying this week that he supports Sirhan’s parole application and that he believes a second gunman committed the assassination. Kennedy Jr. won’t participate in the parole process and declined to comment further. For this hearing, Sirhan has a new parole lawyer, Angela Berry. Berry hasn’t raised any claims about Sirhan’s involvement in the shooting, instead focusing on Sirhan’s age at the time — 24 — his clean record in prison, his remorse and his unlikely chance of reoffending if released.