Kennedy's Killer Isn't Ready for Release, Newsom Decides

California board had recommended Sirhan Sirhan for parole
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 29, 2021 8:00 AM CDT
Updated Jan 13, 2022 5:35 PM CST
Six of RFK's Children Outraged By Vote to Parole His Killer
Sirhan Sirhan arrives for a parole hearing Aug. 27.   (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via AP)

Update: Gov. Gavin Newsom has decided Sen. Robert F. Kennedy's killer will remain in a California prison, ignoring a parole board's recommendation. Newsom said Sirhan Sirhan has yet to accept responsibility for the crime, Politico reports. Nor has he disclaimed violence, the governor's statement said. "Sirhan lacks the insight that would prevent him from making the same types of dangerous decisions he made in the past," he said. In an opinion piece Thursday in the Los Angeles Times, Newsom wrote, "Kennedy's assassination not only changed the course of this nation and robbed the world of a promising young leader, it also left his 11 children without a father and his wife without a husband." Our original story from August follows:

Some of late politician Robert F. Kennedy's children were horrified to learn of the recent vote to grant parole to their father's convicted killer over 50 years after his assassination. Per Politico, six of RFK's kids issued a statement condemning the decision to grant parole to Sirhan Sirhan and vowing to challenge it "every step of the way." The statement came after two of their siblings, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Douglas Kennedy, separately showed support for Sirhan. The six children expressing outrage over the decision were Joseph P. Kennedy II, Christopher G. Kennedy, Courtney Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy, Maxwell T. Kennedy and Rory Kennedy. "We adamently oppose the parole and release of Sirhan Sirhan and are shocked by a ruling that we believe ignores the standards of parole of a confessed, first-degree murder," their statement read, in part.

Previously, Douglas Kennedy, who was a toddler when his father was gunned down in 1968, told a two-person board panel that he was moved to tears by Sirhan’s remorse and that the 77-year-old should be released if he’s not a threat to others, per the AP. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said in a letter that he met Sirhan in prison and was moved when he “wept, clinching my hands and asked for forgiveness.” The ruling will be reviewed over the next 120 days by the board’s staff. Then it will be sent to the governor, who will have 30 days to decide whether to grant it, reverse it or modify it. If Sirhan is freed, he must live in a transitional home for six months, enroll in an alcohol abuse program, and get therapy. (More Sirhan Sirhan stories.)

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