By: Keith Kappes
Carter County Times
Many of us have been shocked, even angry, at the decisions made by some parole boards – and some former governors – over the years about releasing vicious criminals back into society.
When I learned last week that Michael Carneal was being considered for parole after 25 years in prison for his shooting massacre at Heath High School in 1997, I became concerned that some do-gooder might want to set him free even though he killed three persons and wounded five, leaving one paralyzed for life from the waist down.
That concern became real anxiety when I read news reports that he told his parole hearing last week that he continues to hear voices, like that terrible day 25 years ago when that voice in his head supposedly told him to open fire on a prayer circle of students outside the school.
I am pleased to report that common sense prevailed earlier this week when the Kentucky State Parole Board voted 7-0 to deny parole to the 39-year-old mass murderer and ordered him to serve out his original sentence of life in prison.
The “serve out” order means that he never again can be considered for parole and that he will die in prison.
His act of horrific gun violence was among the first mass school shootings in the U. S. and it happened 17 months before the slaughter of 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School in Colorado and about five years after a teacher and a custodian were killed by a student at East Carter High School in Grayson.
Carneal, who was 14 at the time, pleaded guilty to murder, attempted murder, and burglary of the gun used in the unprovoked attack. But because of his age, he was entitled to parole consideration after 25 years.
According to various news reports, he is thought to be one of the first school shooters to come up for parole. The others either died in their attacks or were sentenced to life without possibility of parole.
In my view, Michael Carneal finally got the real life sentence he deserved. And I admire the parole board for doing the right thing.
Keith Kappes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org