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Fort Bend County, At Large
By Cheryl Skinner

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time phone number.

Here we go again—convict could be released

For 18 years, Betty and Ben Elledge spent the better part of the Christmas holidays in an emotional upheaval trying to keep their son, Brandon’s murderer behind bars. Massive letter writing campaigns, trips to Austin, and pre-parole meetings with members of the parole board heralded each holiday season.

This year Ben Elledge finally said he was giving up the fight, he felt he did all that could be done to keep the promise he made to his beloved son. Elledge promised Brandon he would do everything humanly possible to keep Brandon’s killer behind bars. It was a graveside promise of a grieving father who felt helpless, full of overwhelming grief and devastating rage.

In my opinion, Ben and Betty Elledge kept those promises.

Now, Sue Smith is facing the same atrocity.

January is apparently the time for parole hearings, which means families of murder victims are often in the midst of trying to cope with the sadness that special occasions bring.

Another year without a loved one; memories of those happy childhood giggles by the Christmas tree; seeing a toddler happily licking a fudge spoon and on and on.

Then a letter comes. Instead of being able to recall those special moments and properly mourn the loss of a child, mother, father, sister or brother, the survivors are given one more challenge; one more emotional upheaval and one more battle to overcome.

It is at a time when they are most vulnerable.

Something needs to be done about the state prison system in general and the state pardon and paroles division specifically.

This is, in my opinion, the ultimate cruel and unusual punishment, for the victims or their surviving loved ones.

Limits need to be set, dates changed and rules established that look out for the community.

This small panel of bleeding heart parole board members should not have the power to override the decisions of a jury. They should not be able to alter the terms of a plea bargain.

When a crook or killer pleads guilty and settles for a set prison term, they know full well what the alternatives are and they agree to go to prison for a lesser amount of time.

It is time that they served the whole sentence.

Less than a year is certainly not an ample amount of time for a person to stay behind bars for tampering with evidence in a murder investigation. Less than a year for an agreed to 10-year sentence is barely a slap on the wrist.

Please write these parole board members and let them know what an impact they have on our community when they override the sentence and common sense as well.


Contact skinnerc1@tconline.net, if you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column. Write a SIGNED letter to the editor with valid day time phone number--name can be withheld by request.

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   Last Update:  February 05, 2009