Robert F. Kennedy jr. Letter 8/27/2021

Board of Parole Hearings

Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation

August 27, 2021

This evening I learned that the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department late today submitted a letter opposing Mr. Sirhan’s release “on behalf of the Kennedy family”. Please know that that letter was not at the direction of the “family”, and certainly not me.

As you may know, I have been a strong advocate for the release of Mr. Sirhan B. Sirhan since I learned of evidence that was not presented to the court during his trial.  After years of careful investigation, I arrived at the conviction that the story of my father’s murder was not as cut and dried as portrayed at trial. While Sirhan clearly fired shots at my father, overwhelming evidence suggests that these were not the shots that took his life. I also understand that Sirhan’s guilt or innocence is not an issue in this proceeding.  I sought to meet with Mr. Sirhan and we spent several hours together. During that meeting I was impressed by the genuineness of his remorse for the indisputable part he played in my father’s assassination.  Sirhan wept, clenched my hands and asked for forgiveness from me, from my siblings, and from my mother for his part in that tragic evening’s events.  

My father taught me to believe in redemption and justice. His favorite quote, from Aeschylus, urged that we should “Tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of the world.” In my own life I have experienced the miracles of redemption and forgiveness. I believe that Mr. Sirhan is redeemed. At 77, he is a gentle, humble, kind hearted, frail and harmless old man who poses no threat to our community. His release will be testimony to the humanity, compassion and idealism of our justice system to which my father devoted his life.

While nobody can speak definitively on behalf of my father, I firmly believe that, based on his consuming commitment to fairness and justice, that he would strongly encourage this Board to release Mr. Sirhan because of Sirhan’s impressive record of rehabilitation.  This action would be consistent with the rule of law, which requires Sirhan’s release absent evidence that he currently poses a danger.

Mr. Sirhan was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.  Parole is the rule and denial is an exception only be justified if the Board determines that Mr. Sirhan still presents a high risk of danger to the community.   I understand that Mr. Sirhan has more than rehabilitated himself.  I further understand that his most recent risk assessment performed by CDCR psychologists has confirmed the many prior risk assessments which opine that Mr. Sirhan does not pose a high risk of danger to society.  

Should he be released, I offer to be a guiding friend to him.  I know that Paul Schrade has made the same offer to Mr. Sirhan.  

Any opposition to Mr. Sirhan’s release simply based on the crime is contrary to the law and contrary to the concepts of redemption and forgiveness. I ask that you extend the same consideration to Mr. Sirhan that you give to other “lifers” who have been convicted of murder and of whom you have released.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.