Around New England

Ed Markey Says No Life Without Parole, Legalize Prostitution, Give Prisoners the Right To Vote

August 5, 2020

U.S. Senator Ed Markey is calling for ending life without parole prison sentences.

Markey took a question during an online forum Tuesday night from a woman who lost her daughter to violence while she was herself in prison. The woman said she doesn’t believe in life without parole, even though she lost her daughter to homicide.

Markey said he agrees with her.

“Yes, I don’t believe that in Massachusetts we should have life without parole. We have to create a world where everyone has a chance to redeem themselves, to show that they can re-enter into society,” Markey said. “And I think that that is the only way in which we should be thinking about these issues. And my perspective is that we should be first in line in the country in thinking in this way.”

The Zoom forum was recorded by WGBH on Tuesday, August 4. The event was co-hosted by the Ford Hall Forum at Suffolk University and the Justice Reform Coalition.

Markey’s challenger, U.S. Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, also said during the first half of the forum that he supports ending life without parole, although he offered a longer answer.

Both Markey and Kennedy said they oppose solitary confinement in prisons, likening it to torture.

Also like Kennedy, Markey came out in favor of decriminalizing prostitution, after being asked about his stance on the issue by a prostitute.

“I support that effort to decriminalize, so that we’re able to deal more justly with the individuals in the sex work,” Markey said.

Also like Kennedy, Markey told an incarcerated convicted murderer that he supports allowing prisoners to vote.

“We have to restore the right to vote, we have to make it possible for people to be able to register their views in a democracy — on criminal justice issues, and other issues. But on criminal justice issues because who’s an expert, you know, more than someone who has been a part of the system?” Markey said.

Markey criticized what he called the country’s “out of control criminal system.”

The major problem, he suggested, isn’t crime, but the way the country deals with crime.

“I’m committed to ending mass incarceration in our country. So many people are there because we conducted this long drug — We owe an apology to an entire generation of African-American young men,” Markey said.