By Editorial Staff
Published October 1, 1988
The Willie Horton case
In Massachusetts, first-degree murderers used to get out of prison for the weekend …
Governor Michael Dukakis believed that it was “rehabilitative” for prisoners to be allowed to roam the streets unsupervised in what was known as the Prison Furlough Program.
That practice was finally outlawed by state legislators on April 28, 1988, after an enormous grassroots petition drive brought the issue before the people.
Here are the cold hard facts about Governor Dukakis’ “experiment in justice,” which has received little coverage on campaign news broadcasts:
- On June 6, 1986, convicted murderer Willie Horton was released from the Northeastern Correctional Center in Concord. Under state law, he had become eligible for an unguarded, 48-hour furlough. He never came back.
- Horton showed up in Oxon Hill, Maryland, on April 3, 1987. Clifford Barnes, 28, heard footsteps in his house and thought his fiancée had returned early from a wedding party. Suddenly Willie Horton stepped out of the shadows with a gun. For the next seven hours, Horton punched, pistol-whipped, and kicked Barnes – and also cut him 22 times across his midsection.
- When Barnes’ fiancée Angela returned that evening, Horton gagged her and savagely raped her twice. Horton then stole Barnes’ car, and was later chased by police until captured.
- On October 20, 1987, Horton was sentenced in Maryland to two consecutive life terms plus 85 years. The sentencing judge refused to return Horton to Massachusetts, saying, “I’m not prepared to take the chance that Mr. Horton might again be furloughed or otherwise released. This man should never draw a breath of free air again.”
- Variations of this story were repeated on several occasions in Massachusetts. Confessed rapist John Zukoski, who had brutally beaten and murdered a 44 year-old woman in 1970, became eligible for furloughs and was eventually paroled in 1986. A few months later he was arrested and indicted yet again for beating and raping a woman.
- The Massachusetts inmate furlough program actually began under Governor Francis Sargent in 1972. But in 1976 Governor Dukakis vetoed a bill to ban furloughs for first-degree murderers. It would, he said, “Cut the heart out of inmate rehabilitation.”
- The program, in essence, released killers on an “honor system” to see if they would stay out of trouble. On the average, convicts who had been sentenced to “life without parole” spent fewer than 19 years in prison. By March 1987, Dukakis had commuted the sentences of 28 first-degree murderers.
- Of over 80 Massachusetts convicts listed as escaped and still at large, only four had actually “escaped.” The rest simply walked away from furloughs, prerelease centers and other minimum-security programs. These convicts included murderers, rapists, armed robbers and drug dealers.
- First-degree murderer Armand Therrien was transferred from a medium security prison to a minimum-security one, which made him eligible for a work-release program. He walked off and vanished in December 1987.
- When citizens began to protest, Dukakis and his aides defended the program relentlessly. One commissioner stated that furloughs were a “management tool” to help the prisons. Unless a convict had hope of parole, he argued, “we would have a very dangerous population in an already dangerous system.” But, critics wondered, if armed guards can’t control dangerous killers inside locked cells, how are unarmed citizens supposed to deal with them?
- It was through the efforts of a grassroots organization, Citizens Against Unsafe Society, that the issue was finally brought before the people. With mounting pressure from his own aides to sign a bill ending the program – for fear that it would hurt his presidential campaign – Dukakis signed the legislation in April of this year.
America … do we want a president in office who would try the same “experiment in justice” on a national level?
The majority of this material was taken from the article “Getting Away with Murder,” by Robert James Bidinotto, which appeared in Reader’s Digest, July 1988.
Forerunner - Home » The Forerunner Newspaper »
Your comments are welcome!
Download the Free Study Guide!
God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.
Speakers include: R.J. Rushdoony, George Grant, Howard Phillips, R.C. Sproul Jr., Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, Jay Grimstead, Steven Schlissel, Andrew Sandlin, Eric Holmberg, and more!
Sixteen Christian leaders and scholars answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions related to this volatile issue:
1. Are we under Law or under Grace?
2. Does the Old Testament Law apply today?
3. Can we legislate morality?
4. What are the biblical foundations of government?
5. Was America founded as a Christian nation?
6. What about the separation of Church and State?
7. Is neutrality a myth?
8. What about non-Christians and the Law of God?
9. Would there be “freedom” in a Christian republic?
10. What would a “Christian America” look like?
Perfect for group instruction as well as personal Bible study.
Ten parts, over four hours of instruction!
Running Time: 240 minutes
Watch over 60 on-line video interviews from God’s Law and Society.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
High Quality Paperback — 219 pages
Foundations in Biblical Orthodoxy
Driving down a country road sometime, you might see a church with a sign proudly proclaiming: “No book but the Bible — No creed but Christ.” The problem with this statement is that the word creed (from the Latin: credo) simply means “belief.” All Christians have beliefs, regardless of whether they are written.
Yet a single book containing the actual texts of the most important creeds of the early Church will not often be found. Out of the multitude of works on the evangelical Christian book market today, those dealing with the creeds of the Church are scarce.
Why Creeds and Confessions? provides a foundation of biblical orthodoxy as a defense against the false and truly heretical doctrines advanced by the spirit of this age.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
What is true Revival and Spiritual Awakening?
Discover the answer in this eyewitness account by Dennis Kinlaw, President of Asbury College, Wilmore, Kentucky, who recounts the story of a visitation of the Holy Spirit in 1970. This is the presentation that has continued to spark the flames of Revival in the hearts of people around the world. Contains eyewitness footage from the Revival at Asbury College in 1970 in Wilmore, Kentucky.
Certain to challenge you to greater holiness and a deeper commitment to full-scale revival. Original news and private footage has been included. If you are a student who longs to see a spiritual awakening at your school, you must see this video!
“This simple video does a wonderful job of conveying something of God’s heart and power, Everyone we have ever shown this to has received an immediate impartation of faith for revival and the power of prayer.”
— Bob and Rose Weiner, Weiner Ministries Int’l
Running Time: 40 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Special Two-Disc Set!
After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.
Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.
$49.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
$12.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)