Despite objections from countless law enforcement organizations, Voltaire Williams, who is serving a life sentence for his critical role in the 1985 assassination of LAPD Detective Thomas Williams (no relation), was granted parole Tuesday by a three-person panel from the California Board of Parole Hearings.
Voltaire Williams, who has spent the last 32 years in prison after being convicted of conspiracy to murder Detective Williams, will now be released on parole.
The decision, made after Gov. Jerry Brown requested the Parole Board reconsider an October 2016 grant of parole for Williams, reinforces the fact that the Parole Board is determined to release life sentence inmates regardless of their danger to society.
Inmate Williams was a key participant in what has been described as one of the worst murder plots in Los Angeles history: the killing of LAPD Detective Thomas Williams to prevent him from testifying in an upcoming criminal case.
Inmate Williams was supposed to shoot Detective Williams himself. When the person who had hired him decided to commit the murder on his own, Williams chose not to inform authorities.
Detective Williams was picking up his 6-year-old son Ryan from church school when the shooter opened fired with a Mac-10 assault rifle. Williams barely had time to tell his son to duck before he was struck by the hail of bullets that also penetrated classroom walls.
Gov. Brown asked the Parole Board to reconsider the earlier parole grant, citing Williams’s minimization of his role in the crime and his lack of appreciation of the magnitude of the crime and its effect upon the community.
Deputy District Attorney Lawrence Morrison highlighted these concerns before the Parole Board, as well as the inmate’s lengthy history of lying to prior parole panels on key points of his actions during the conspiracy.
Morrison further pointed out to the Parole Board Williams’ failure to acknowledge his active involvement in two separate conspiracies to murder, and the board’s reliance on incomplete psychology reports predicting a low risk of future violence.
None of this mattered to the Parole Board, which operates behind prison walls outside the eye of the public.
It is clear that in board members’ minds, when an inmate has served a certain portion of his sentence he should be released, and any future harm he causes can be dealt with via a new prosecution.
A rubber stamp could hardly do worse.
Michele Hanisee is president of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the county of Los Angeles.