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Friday, 6 October, 2000, 10:44 GMT 11:44 UK
Should John Lennon's killer be set free?

Mark Chapman was jailed for life for murdering former Beatle, John Lennon. Under New York state law a minimum sentence of 20 years was set, but his first application for parole has been turned down.

Chapman still receives hate mail on a daily basis and remains in isolation for his own protection. Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, says she would fear for her safety if Chapman were to be released.

But Chapman argues that he has overcome the psychological problems that led to his crime. He says he just wants to lead an ordinary life.

Mark Chapman's next chance for parole will be in two years. Should he be set free or is his crime still too fresh in many people's minds?

This debate is now closed. Your reaction:

Surely the humblest victim of murder is no less a human than somebody famous. So if many murderers are judged to have served their sentence and are released on parole then this case should be assessed no differently.
James Denning, UK

A man who could kill a star who had just signed an autograph, should never be released. In fact, he shouldn't have been born in the first place. Society should make sure that mistake remains corrected forever.
Ade Talabi, UK

It's not going to bring John Lennon back to life

James K, England
Whatever happens to him, it's not going to bring John Lennon back to life so why don't you all get on with your own lives instead of worrying about revenge?
James K, England

This man thrives on publicity. If he is freed he will be immortalised when somebody guns him down. Keep him in jail so we can forget about him for another 20 years.
R. Mckenzie, New Zealand

He should be set free in Liverpool at 11pm on any Friday night.
CJ, Russia

Whether Chapman is receiving threats or hate mail should have absolutely no bearing on any determination of his stay in jail - since when do authorities automatically incarcerate people who have received threats? Whether the killing is still fresh in people's minds is also totally irrelevant. Are we saying that crimes committed against celebrities are to be treated differently to those against the rest of us?
John McReynolds, N. Ireland

Let him stay inside

Gunnar, Sweden
Murderers are dangerous, and many of them kill again after being released from jail. Let him stay inside.
Gunnar, Sweden

Rest in Peace, John Lennon. Thank you for inspiring my music career.
Barri Bass, USA

Genius aside, John was a father and husband. Mark Chapman destroyed more than a rock legend, he destroyed a family. What I find sad is your European viewpoint that "lunatics" would want to shoot this animal. He is lucky that the crime was committed in New York, one of the most liberal US States. I think that is unfortunate. If the crime had been in Texas or Florida, this discussion would not be taking place. Mark Chapman would have been executed long ago. Nothing short of what he deserves.
K. Jones, USA

Mark Chapman was found guilty in a court of law of first-degree premeditated murder. That is the bottom line. No apologies or excuses regarding psychological rehabilitation will ever bring back the human life that Mr Chapman knowingly took. He should remain in jail for the rest of his life to contemplate that he alone is responsible for leaving two young children fatherless.
Adam Ristow, USA

I think that every man deserves a second chance. We should not forget however that this man took the life of one of the most favoured musicians of all time. However he should get a second chance. If he is let out he should be placed under house arrest.
Greg Nemet, Armenia

I think Mr Chapman should have had the death penalty passed on him a long time ago. He should never be released from prison. We could have learned so much more about music if Lennon was still alive and it might have changed the way music is today.
Michael von Bulow, South Africa

Sentence was for life. That explains it all. Why is parole an option?

All murderers should stay in jail for the rest of their lives - their lives should definitely not be treated as superior to the lives of their victim

E. W., UK
I tend to agree with people who say that he should not be treated differently from other killers just because the person he killed was talented and famous. However, this should not mean that he should be released just because the others tend to be released after this time. That is what is wrong. All murderers should stay in jail for the rest of their lives - their lives should definitely not be treated as superior to the lives of their victims who have zero chance of living any quality of life.
E. W., UK

I fear that Mark Chapman will be an American victim of the Myra Hindley syndrome. It's not about justice or rehabilitation it's about revenge. If there was the will then I'm sure that Chapman could be given a new identity etc
Sam Owen, England

I am afraid that this man will not last longer than a week before he is murdered and he must know that prison is the safest place for him!
Graham Golding, U.K.

The parole board will have to weigh up a number of factors. I would certainly believe Chapman will be a marked man when released. I wouldn't give tuppence for his safety on the outside. The world is full of people who will be looking for him.
Greg, NZ

One wonders if release will merely take this man from a prison sentence to a death sentence

Paul R, UK
If he has served his time and is not likely to re-offend then normal prison rules should apply. However, releasing such a high profile murderer must have consequences for his own safety and one wonders if release will merely take this man from a prison sentence to a death sentence.
Paul R, UK

Lennon's killer shouldn't be treated any differently than any other murderer. If the justice system believes he has served his time and he is not a threat to the community, then he should be paroled. I feel that it is somewhat unjust that he can walk free, while Lennon, the genius, cannot.
Nige, UK

Of course they should keep him locked up - if only to make sure some lunatic doesn't shoot him the moment he's out of jail. Still, if he survives once he's out, will he be coming over to the UK for a book-signing tour? I expect Mike Tyson's promoters are already talking to the Home Secretary about it...
Phil, Yorkshire

If Chapman is released on parole, there is no guarantee that Yoko Ono will be safe

Albert Devakaram, India
Chapman should not be released for several reasons. As he was awarded a jail term for life, he cannot expect any escape from it. One must remember that he shot John Lennon, not once or twice, but four times, to make sure his victim was killed. If Chapman is released on parole, there is no guarantee that Yoko Ono will be safe. She is naturally bound to feel insecure if this killer is freed. Chapman's argument that he has overcome psychological problems that led to the crime when John Lennon was at the prime of his youth and career does not hold any water. Furthermore, it is not advisable for Chapman to be freed in his own interest, if the hate-mail he receives daily is any indication.
Albert Devakaram, India

I don't think it would be much use. Apart from not being convinced that this man is suitable for freedom, I fear there will be plenty of lunatics about who want to be part of Beatle-history as well by shooting the killer of John Lennon. He won't survive. He's safer in jail.
Arno Kempers, Scotland/ Holland

As much as I hate him for what he's done, I think John would not have wanted Chapman to spend the rest of his life in jail.
Atif Rahman, Islamabad, Pakistan

The chance of rehabilitation for Chapman, I think, would be slim if not nil. The whole of society needs protection, not just members of the Lennon family.
Natalie McCoskrie, New Zealand

If a parole board is convinced that he is safe to be released then he must be released

Adrian Smith,UK
John Lennon's killer should not be treated any differently to any other killer under US/ New York State law. If a parole board is convinced that he is safe to be released then he must be released.
Adrian Smith, UK

I know too little about Mark Chapman to comment - why not let the judges decide? However, I do appreciate Ono's concern. She sure will be worried.
Mridula, India

How can we release the robber of music, talent and genius? Chapman should rot in hell for what he has done. He doesn't deserve freedom, he stole John's away. Lennon Forever.
Sarah Aison, USA

Chapman got life in prison and it should be exactly that! He wants to lead a normal life? What about Lennon's family, shouldn't they be able to lead a normal life?
Chris De Caluwe, USA

This man is criminally insane. This fact alone should render his release an act of folly. The fact that he killed Lennon is besides the point, he should remain locked up.
Yiannis Christodoulides, Cyprus

One may say that he should been sentenced to death but if he is refused parole now it would appear that it is because of the fame of the person he murdered, not the crime itself. This would be immoral.
Raymond, Dominican Republic

Mark Chapman should definitely not be freed. He took John Lennon's life and should have to suffer for this. He says he want to lead an ordinary life, but what about Lennon? His life was taken in an act of insanity. Bring back the death penalty I say.
Muppet, UK

Certainly, he should be released if he has served his sentence. Why not? There are plenty of other murderers who do less time than this guy.
Sean, USA

John Lennon was a dangerous communist influence

William H, UK
John Lennon was a dangerous communist influence. I'm surprised that Chapman took him out before the authorities felt forced to.
William H, UK

No murderer should ever be paroled.
Jean-Paul Floru, USA

Mark Chapman is bonkers - keep him locked up.
Alastair Dudley, UK

Personally, I'm grateful that Lennon's career ended before the disastrous impact of the eighties on pop music.
Adam, Austria

It is somewhat presumptuous for him to believe John Lennon would have forgiven him by now

Paul, UK
Any motiveless killer who is still a youngish man should not be let out on his first parole hearing. This should have nothing to do with the man he murdered. It would be madness to let him out in a country where guns are so easily accessible - he could very easily get it into his head to murder someone else (famous or not) for some inexplicable reason. It is also somewhat presumptuous for him to believe John Lennon would have forgiven him by now. Without being glib, it took Lennon nearly 10 years to forgive Paul McCartney for leaving the Beatles, so I doubt he would forgive his own killer so easily!
Paul, UK

I am a huge John Lennon and Beatles fan and still today the death of John Lennon haunts and saddens me. Mark Chapman says he should be set free to live out his life peacefully. I doubt if he should ever been able to do this. However, by his actions not only did he destroy one of the world's greatest songwriters but denied both Julian and Sean, John's son's, the chance to get to know their father better. After all they are the only people apart from Yoko who deserve respect something that Mr Chapman will never achieve.
Joanna Preston-Wyse, England

The murder of John Lennon was a premeditated and calculated act by Mark Chapman. The man should not get parole as he took a life and therefore we should take away his through imprisonment. The man might be a model prisoner and have repented, but it does not bring back the fact that he murdered somebody and caused immense pain to their family. Life should mean life, not just twenty years.
Nick Evans, UK

I don't see why he should be treated differently from any other killer. If his sentence has been served he should be released - the fact that his victim was famous doesn't make his crime worse than if he had killed anyone else.
John B, UK

For someone who deprived the world of a great musician, I'm surprised that he wants to leave prison and face the music.
Colin, Netherlands

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See also:

03 Oct 00 | Americas
Lennon's killer seeks parole
03 Oct 00 | Entertainment
John Lennon's legacy
08 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Lennon's birthday tribute
09 Oct 99 | Entertainment
Lennon song tops all-time poll
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