The National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers has concerns about the First Step Implementation Act of 2021. The bill would allow juvenile criminals to apply for sentence reductions up to three times. NOVJM requests: that legislators decrease the number of times an offender can apply for a sentence modification; that the bill not apply retroactively; and that an exception be made, denying those responsible for highly aggravated crimes the right to demand a sentence modification. These changes will spare victims from the heartache that comes with frequent traumatizing interactions with the criminal justice system and from the cruel betrayal that is often caused by retroactive sentence changes.
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Letter to Senate
Thank you for your attention. We are the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers. NOVJM represents nearly 400 victims around the country who have lost loved ones to juvenile criminals. We are emailing to request that the First Step Implementation Act of 2021 be amended. The Act would give juvenile offenders the ability to apply for sentence reductions three separate times. We are concerned with the impact the legislation would have on victims’ rights and public safety. We are not seeking to defeat the bill or to remove all portions regarding young offenders. We only request small changes that we believe will make the legislation more compassionate towards victims and more considerate of public safety. Specifically, we request that the number of applications allowed for offenders be limited. And we request that those responsible for the most horrific crimes, such as first-degree murder, not be eligible for sentence reductions. We hope and trust that our concerns will be considered.
While we understand the desire to give most juvenile offenders chances to obtain release, we recognize that some juvenile criminals pose a long-term danger. One example of a dangerous criminal who could benefit from the bill is Johnny Orsinger, who murdered four people, including a nine-year-old girl, when he was 16. Orsinger and his accomplices murdered two men in August of 2001, carjacking and kidnapping them and shooting them to death. In October of 2001, Orsinger and 20-year-old Lezmond Mitchell (Mitchell was executed in 2020) tricked Alyce Slim into giving them a ride, murdered her by stabbing her 33 times, and shoved her dead body in the back of her vehicle. They forced Alyce’s nine-year-old granddaughter Tiffany into the back of the vehicle next to her dead grandmother. They proceeded to abduct the girl, taking her on a 30-40-mile drive into the Chuska Mountains. The kidnappers later murdered Tiffany to escape apprehension. They did so by slitting her throat and crushing her head with large rocks.
Such heinous acts result from extreme depravity, not immature brains. We believe that the bill, as currently written, fails to recognize this. We also have concerns regarding the potential dangers associated with releasing criminals who are capable of such horrific acts. We request that the bill be amended so that offenders responsible for the most severe crimes, such as first-degree murder, would not be eligible for sentence reductions.
Another concern is the number of chances the bill provides for youthful offenders to obtain sentence reductions. As written, it allows these offenders to apply for sentence reductions up to three times. We ask you to remember that victims often suffer every time they are forced to engage with the criminal justice system, whether through judicial reviews or parole hearings. In cases where there are multiple defendants, victims would endure additional trauma. We request that lawmakers reduce the number of applications provided for each offender.
We thank you for your time and hope that you will make the necessary changes to protect victims and society.