ACA Urges Governor Newsom To Reconsider Sassounian Parole

June 12, 2020

The Honorable Gavin Newsom
Governor of the State of California
1303 10th Street, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

For nearly four decades, Mr. Hampig Harry Sassounian has been serving a 25-year to life sentence for his role in the assassination of the Turkish Consul General to Los Angeles in 1982. Mr. Sassounian, now 57 years of age, has served more than the average life sentence of 25 years.

While, historically most Parole Boards are extremely cautious to recommend the release of prisoners, in 2017 the California Parole Board determined that Mr. Sassounian had demonstrated sufficient rehabilitation and granted him parole. Unfortunately, this decision was reversed by former Governor Jerry Brown. Your Parole Board did its own thorough investigation in 2019 and agreed with the prior Board in 2017. In fact, your Parole Board found Mr. Sassounian was suitable for parole noting that “as a child he was subjected to the trauma of war and political strife, that he has participated in self-help programming in prison, he has developed extensive parole plans, he has taken responsibility for the harm that he has caused, he has demonstrated a history of change and increased maturity, and he has given serious thought to how his actions are perceived by others.”

The Armenian Council of America has consternations, that despite these specific and consistent findings by both Parole Boards, your decision to deny Mr. Sassounian his parole may be more political than judicial.

ACA condemns any and all criminal and violent activities. Social justice should be achieved through diplomatic, peaceful, and lawful channels. Yet, ACA also believes the California justice system should not be manipulated and dictated by any political influence.  Any offender convicted for acts committed at a young age, who have rehabilitated and are eligible for parole, deserve and warrant a release.

ACA calls upon you to effectuate a just and humanitarian result when Mr. Sassounian’s case reaches your desk once again in the near future.

Sincerely,

Armenian Council of America
Executive Board