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The quality of mercy is strained, constrained

Governor Baker (shown in a Dec. 30, 2021 photo) last week approved commutation requests for two men serving life sentences for murder.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

Crime victims and their survivors deserve justice

Re “Willie Horton era must end” by Adrian Walker (Metro, Jan. 12): Willie Horton is not a “ghost” who “has haunted Massachusetts for far too long.” He is in a Maryland prison where he belongs. In 1974, Horton was convicted of murdering my 17-year-old brother Joey, a high school student who was working part time to buy himself a car. In 1987, Horton, serving a sentence of life without parole, was convicted of raping a woman in Maryland while on furlough from Massachusetts. Walker complains that commutations and pardons have been rare events and decries that Horton has made compassion bad — or, at least, risky — politics.


The truth is, criminals convicted by a jury should be expected to serve their sentences. This is the foundation of the American justice system. My brother Joey was denied his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Victims of crime and survivors of homicide victims suffer their entire lives and deserve justice. Unless serious errors or egregious circumstances of injustice are revealed later, commutations and pardons shouldn’t even be considered. Importantly, society should not be put at risk from released convicted criminals serving life without parole. A just and lawful society demands that commutations be very rare indeed.

Donna Fournier Cuomo

North Andover

Governor Baker should be lauded for this act of clemency

The many supporters of Thomas E. Koonce and William Allen are ecstatic. We applaud Governor Baker for his decision to acknowledge the exemplary character and accomplishments of these men (“Baker approves commutation requests for two convicted of murder,” BostonGlobe.com, Jan. 12).

Thank you also to Adrian Walker for his column that spotlighted the fact that the crimes of these young men should never have been prosecuted as first-degree murder.

The so-called legacy of Willie Horton will live on. But we hope and pray that it will be eclipsed by the acts of prudent and courageous governors who examine the facts of each case and the personal character of each incarcerated person.


Karen Andres