Group Celebrates Convicted Murderer's 'Second Chance,' But the Page Has Been Deleted After a Gruesome Spree Left Young Mom Dead
A convicted murderer who was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 1984 is accused of killing two people earlier this week in a brutal Chicago double murder.
That line in and of itself tells a story of something that went terribly wrong: People who are sentenced to spend their natural life behind bars generally are not in a position to commit such crimes.
That was not the case for 55-year-old convicted murderer Steven Hawthorne, who should have been in prison last Sunday morning but was instead allegedly menacing a Windy City neighborhood and taking more human life.
In 1983, at age 17, Hawthorne fatally shot a young man during an altercation. An innocent bystander who was playing chess nearby also took a bullet and died.
Hawthorne was sent to prison, which is where this country used to house its most violent people.
But a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling would change all of that. In Miller v. Alabama, the high court found that criminal courts could not remand minors to prison with sentences of life without the possibility of parole.
In 2017, Hawthorne was up for parole and was released from an Illinois state prison.
The local media celebrated him as a man who had received a second chance at life, which he had callously denied to others. A February 2017 Facebook post from The Chicago Tribune shows a smiling 49-year-old Hawthorne after he was freed.
“Convicted of murder, Steven Hawthorne had entered prison as a teenager with a full head of hair and a sentence of life without parole. He was supposed to die there,” the newspaper’s social media team wrote.
The post concluded, “But on a recent chilly afternoon, Hawthorne, now 49, felt the sun, a free man for the first time in 33 1/2 years.”
The nonprofit criminal justice reform advocacy group Families Against Mandatory Minimums also dedicated an entire page to Hawthorne on its website.
“Steven Hawthorne’s story shows how second chances make sense,” FAMM said of the killer. “When he got his second chance and was released from Illinois state prison, Steven started building a productive life of service — and he hasn’t stopped since.”
The page went on and on about Hawthorne’s life and what he intended to do with his freedom — until it didn’t.
FAMM removed its page for Hawthorne sometime this week. Without an explanation, it was simply deleted.
Thankfully, the page was archived, so it can still be accessed here.
Why would FAMM remove its page celebrating the success of Hawthorne’s release from prison?
It might have something to do with what he was accused of doing on Sunday morning.
WLS-TV reported Hawthorne allegedly entered the Chicago home of 26-year-old Tamera Washington, her two young daughters, her 63-year-old uncle, and her boyfriend, Norman Redden.
Police say that Redden was shot in the head and died and that Hawthorn also fired shots at the uncle and the little girls.
Hawthorne then allegedly shot Washington in the arm before he pistol-whipped her. She was able to get away, but officers said the convicted murderer caught up with her down the street and murdered her by beating her over her head with a “boulder.”
In another twist, Hawthorne was not just out of prison for a previous double murder. He was out on bail after he was arrested by police in January during a traffic stop while allegedly possessing a handgun as a felon.
Officers said they were able to track his movements during the killing spree from his tracking monitor.
He is charged with two counts of murder and a count of attempted murder.
The obvious question is: Why was this man not in prison to begin with?
The Supreme Court played a small role.
But why was Hawthorne, a convicted double murderer, allowed to even post a bond in Chicago after he was allegedly found with a firearm?
These are questions voters will have to ask themselves if they care to do so when choosing their public officials.
They are also questions that need to be asked of soft-on-crime district attorneys and those who sit on parole boards.
None of this is to say some people do not deserve second chances, because some of them do.
But when the system gets it wrong the consequences can be deadly.
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