Governor Newsom Denies Sassounian Parole

Hampig Sassounian

Hampig Sassounian

Despite a recommendation in December by the Board of Parole in favor of Hampig Sassounian’s suitability, Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday rejected that decision and denied his parole, saying in a lengthy decision that while he acknowledged the steps Sassounian had taken over decades to rehabilitate himself, he did not believe Sassounian to be fit for release.

“I commend Mr. Sassounian for his rehabilitative efforts in prison, but I find they are outweighed by negative factors that show he remains unsuitable for parole at this time,” said Newsom in his letter obtained by Asbarez on Tuesday.

“I believe that Mr. Sassounian has not yet demonstrated that he has developed and sustained the necessary insight and skills for a sufficiently long period. In particular, I am concerned that Mr. Sassounian has continued to underestimate the vigilance that is required of him, now and in the future, to consistently conduct himself in a manner that promotes the rule of law and avoids fomenting violence, even inadvertently,” added Newsom.

“After reviewing and considering the evidence in the record, I believe that Mr. Sassounian must do additional work before he can be safely released. Accordingly, I find that he still poses an unreasonable danger to society if released and I reverse the Board’s decision to parole Mr. Sassounian,” Newsom concluded in his letter.

“We are extremely disappointed in Gov. Newsom’s decision to reject the recommendation of the Parole Board and choose to deny Hampig Sassounian the freedom he deserves,” the Hampig Sassounian Defense Committee told Asbarez soon after the governor’s decision was published.

“Throughout the decades that he has spent in prison, Hampig has taken every conceivable step to rehabilitate himself and has been a model prisoner, a fact that the governor himself acknowledges in his decision,” added the Hampig Sassounian Defense Committee. “We hope that, like in previous instances, the governor was not swayed by pressure from the Turkish  government, which used the White House to do its bidding.”

“We are concerned that unjustified arguments have received greater consideration than the governor’s record on human rights and the experience we anticipated from the governor,” the Defense Committee told Asbarez, adding that it will continue its efforts to seek other avenues for Sassounia’s release.

In 2016, Sassounian was granted parole only to see it be rejected in 2017 by then governor Jerry Brown, who cited letters he had received from then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Attorney General Jeff Sessions opposing the parole.

Sassounian has been serving a life sentence when he was convicted in 1984 for the 1982 murder of Turkish Consul General to Los Angeles Kemal Arikan. In 2002 a federal appeals court overturned a special circumstances finding in his sentence, making Sassounian eligible for parole after serving a minimum of 25 years. Sassounian has now served 38 years. Sassounian will be eligible for parole in 18 months.


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  1. Vicken Sonentz Papazian said:

    Shame on Governor Newsom for not standing up to State Department and Turkish pressure and trying to sell this nonsense about Hampig not being sufficiently contrite, etc..Hampig has done far more prison time than most inmates convicted of similar crimes. He deserves parole and hoepfully California’s next Governor will have more spine.

  2. Armen said:

    Newsome, you just alienated an appreciable portion of your constituency – the Armenians! Do you give a sh$%?

  3. Barséghian Ardachèce said:

    If the rulers of our country wanted to re-put this national humiliation back, he would have to erige a statue with his effigy. More than a century of loyal service of our community and the thank you lick the boots of the Turkish azeris to defend the interest of a President who pushes the nail by interrupting the funding of the deminage in Artsakh. So Armeniens!!! Until ???

  4. ara said:

    sad- the recommendations are everywhere except in the governors heads! the Turks killed millions and millions and still do-this man should be freed- we are all dedicated to the cause of justice- Governor should be imprisoned-

  5. Rafi said:

    It is preposterous that in these trying times our esteemed governor focused his attention on Hampig and vetoed the parole board decision! Typical Democratic chicanery, making one to want to vote for Trump.
    Reading the governors reasoning, you would believe Hampig joining the armenian army would have destabilized the Armenian Turkish boarder and even threaten our cherished NATO alliance!
    The legal criteria for parole is the threat posed to society by the release and it is Chrystal clear to everyone that Hampig’s release
    Is no threat to anyone.
    Moreover ,the parole board twice concluded he was no such threat.
    This was pure and simple a political decision the bases of which decision are not clear.i’m inclined to believe it is typical Democratic leadership policy of late to not take any chances at all and hope for the best.These same approach netted us Trump!

  6. Armen said:

    At this point, he’s a political prisoner. Let’s call it as it is.

  7. Barséghian Ardachèce said:

    This poor guy is the executor of erdoran, aliyev via Trump and it is HAMPIG who is humiliating insult for us … the loyal, laborious, bold ARMENIENNE community … diasporic and country.

  8. Barséghian Ardachèce said:

    This is a great and fair opportunity for our Party to demonstrate in front of the White House and the embassy in Yerevan and I would join in.

  9. Michael said:

    Let’s get this straight. A “six time deported” illegal felon murders innocent Kate Steinle in San Francisco and Newsom and his attorney general have no issues and he is let go with no prosecution from State. Rapists and felons are let loose by CA daily. Yet Newsom still feels Hampig should be in jail. Ok, got it. This is 100% politics. If Newsom knew there were enough Armenian votes to get him out of office Hampig would be released immediately.

  10. D2 said: