Crime and Punishment Media

I’ll Be On Which Way LA? Tonight RE: Lily Burk & Parole Policy

This evening at 7 p.m, {Actually our segment is on at 7:30 ] I’ll be on Warren Olney’s Which Way LA?
along with LAPPL President Paul Weber.

We’ll be talking about the tragedy of Lily Burk’s death, the media coverage of the crime, and whether or not it’s being used as a political football.

We will also discuss prison and parole policy as those topics relate to the proposed $1.2 billion in cuts to the CDCR budget to be decided upon in August by the California State Leg.

Tune in at 7 p.m. at KCRW – 89.9 FM – to hear it live.

Or listen to the podcast when it goes up here.


  • KateC, I don’t see how that article contradicts Lopez’s in any way. Is there some particular comment you found illuminating? Because I’m not seeing it.

  • Celeste, I don’t want to overdo it, but since the conversation about Lily Burk moved up here, I will re-post a recent comment from an older thread, because I believe that the oral story of a mother dealing with her daughter’s murder is worthwhile for others to hear. Here’s the summary with a link.

    = = =

    Celeste, I couldn’t listen to the interview of Sheeder Bonanno, but I finally did. It’s even more revealing.

    In going to her daughter’s apartment, with the police there and the crowd waiting for the parents to arive to view them, she realized that she played, as in a movie, the role of “Mother of the murdered daughter.” She mentioned that she felt the obligation to spare the policeman the difficult duty of having to say the words, so she asked simply for a “yes” answer that she knew was coming.

    Her poem “Nighttime Prayer,” asking about her daughter’s suffering in her final moments and how long it lasted, is so sad and equally painful.

    She discusses her reaction to the trial and the victim impact statements at sentencing. She read one of her poems to the murderer in her statement.

    There is also her reaction to wanting the man to die even though she didn’t support the death penalty. If there wasn’t a justice system, she would have sought him out and killed him herself…out of love for her child and family. That was interesting. The murderer was sentenced to life in prison without parole. She couldn’t feel free of her rage until he was incarcerated, plus she didn’t have to deal with the guilt of the death penalty.

    The poem “Forgiveness” is about the minister being obligated to ask her to forgive. The church helped her to move forward.

    She has another poem for when the verdit “Guilty” was announced and what she felt. She also shares her emotions when the mother of the murderer came meekly to her to say that she was sorry. At first she despised that mother for bearing the child who would kill her daughter, and then she realized that they were the truest sisters and mothers with children they lost.

    She had to write about her daughter’s death, because that story stood in the way of other writing. She wanted to pull the readers on board for a ride with her, where they couldn’t step off, until the book was over.

    Celeste, I don’t have a command of adjectives and emotions that you do and I can’t do this topic justice with my business vocabulary, but this was a moving interview and worth the 47 minutes to hear it.

    As with most things in life, one can’t begin to understand how someone else feels without having experienced something similar. She brought us as close as she could with her writings.

  • Woody,

    I had planned to leave a message for Celeste regarding her interview on Which Way LA?, but after reading your post, with much difficulty I’ll add, I have had a change of heart and send this to you.

    My son Bryan was killed two years ago, so I have a clue what the family is experiencing, and it’s not pleasant.

    Appreciate the posting, even though it brought tears to my eyes while reading.

  • Ed, I just remembered that your son was killed. There are no words, really.

    Woody, I listened to the interview too. You caught the soul of it with great clarity and passion. Thank you for that. I think hers is a very, very important book. The last poem about the light not being defeated….. Amazing and devastating, both. Actually everything she read was….shattering.

    Honestly, I think you expressed it better than I feel capable of doing right now.

  • Having only brothers, I have not experienced one of my silblings dying as a direct result of violence. My oldest brother did die very young, from an unexpected illness which was not predicted and unpreventable. I was very young to understand his death and I still wonder how it would be like with him still alive.
    Aside from the many close friends that did die from gang related violence, my uncle was shot in the head while attempting to help and defend an older black lady being purse snatched. My uncle’s parents passed away really young, leaving him orphan at around age 16. He moved in with my grandparents and father, to only be killed years later at a really young age himself -at 25. Like so many murders in Los Angeles, his case was never solved nor do i think they cared to solve it.
    My childhood friend shot himself in the head with his father’s pistol. I was standing on the sidewalk, downstairs from his apartment building, yelling at him to come downstairs. We were all waiting for him to start a game of street football. Even today, I close my eyes and hear the one gun shot go off. I got to see his bloody head and body laying on the floor with splatter dots of blood on all over the white wall. For years, I could not get that white wall out of my head in my nightmares. Today, when I think about his death, I close my eyes and try to remember him with a big smiling face – because I dont want to remember the actually tragedy. My way of cooping with it – you know.
    My cousin, very close and dear, was recently murdered, shot in the head execution style, a straight result of gang involvment and possible drug related activities. I can not say he did not deserve it – because he did. But, that does not stop him from being my cousin and blood related relative. At home, I have a picture of him when he was about 9 years old, thats the why I want to remember him – innocent.
    There is no need to go into details of all the other deaths – they were somehow not directly related to me – by relationship that is.
    The hard part about losing someone is not that your going to miss them but that your expectations about them are taken away, totally wiped away from you. Lily’s parents will never get to see their daughter get married or have children. So, Charles Samuel did not only take away one life but he took away ten folds of generations. He took away the future. He just basically decided to snatched away an entire lineage of Burks from the face of this earth. He decided to play God almighty.
    He violently killed a young girl and within hours later, he walked around with a beer in one hand and a crack in his pocket. If this does not deserve the death penalty, then what does? It does not matter what side of the fence your on with morals, faith or religion. He needs to go. Hell is waiting.

  • poplockerone “So, Charles Samuel did not only take away one life but he took away ten folds of generations. He took away the future. He just basically decided to snatched away an entire lineage of Burks from the face of this earth. He decided to play God almighty … If this does not deserve the death penalty, then what does?”

    Putting to death one itinerate won’t bring Lily back and it certainly won’t prevent another Lily from dying needlessly. That’s the problem with our criminal justice system. We need a solution that focuses on prevention, not (only) punishment.

  • @mark: Putting Charles Samuel to death is part of the solution. The Death Penalty must not be understood in terms of revenge or retribution, but as a terrible, inmutable equation. Keeping Charles Samuel alive costs money, and lots of it. We need to pay for his food, clothing, shelter, and the guards who will supervise him the rest of his life. That’s several thousand dollars spent on a man who will never contribute anything to society. As evinced by the current budget crisis, we live in a world of finite resources, so a choice must be made. Do we keep an unredeemable murderer and criminal alive for decades? or do we execute him swiftly and use the money that we would have spent in sustaining him to improve any number of programs that can have a positive effect of society? To keep a Charles Samuel alive, you must choose to cut funding from public education, drug rehab, gang reduction efforts and many other worthwhile programs. Charles Samuel’s life is a lost cause. It would be immoral for us to devote scarce resources to keep him alive when they could be used to give a chance to infinitely more deserving men and women of limited means and in high risk neighborhoods.

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