Searching for Justice in Rhode Island
A result is the opposite of justice if it has the father of a child-killer’s victim calling in to a radio show to express such thoughts as this:
It was a shame he only got forty years to begin with. He should have got a life sentence, but stupidly, I allowed the plea bargaining to go so I wouldn’t have to put up with agony of hearing all of the events, at that time. I didn’t want to hear them, so it was my mistake. You know what, that was my mistake to let that happen, to let the plea bargain happen, and I got myself to blame for that. I got myself to blame for allowing him to be released early, to become a predator to other people — if he’s not released in Rhode Island, wherever he is, a predator to somebody else. I’m to blame for all that, and I’ll make that right if he’s released.
John Foreman is the father of Jason Foreman, a five year old whom Michael Woodmansee murdered in 1975. As the Providence Journal reported on Sunday, Woodmansee, who got off easy with a forty-year sentence, is scheduled to be released after serving only twenty-eight, for good behavior and for holding a job while in prison.
A stronger argument for the death penalty, I’ve never seen — if only so that authorities could have had the leverage both to spare the family the agony of a trial through plea bargaining and to put Woodmansee behind bars for life. This outcome is a travesty, especially considering that the only reason the killer was caught was that he botched another attempt seven years later.
I’m surprised, by the way, that neither South Kingstown Police Chief Vincent Vespia, who was on the show at the beginning of the segment, nor show host John DePetro responded to Foreman’s multiple statements of intent to kill Woodmansee by discouraging him from doing so. Honestly, I had related thoughts to Foreman’s upon reading the Projo article, but becoming a killer himself won’t bring back his son, and it will only prolong the ordeal for everybody else affected by the initial atrocity.
More productive, should Woodmansee find himself on the street, would be a concerted campaign to find and expose him wherever he may go, perhaps by means of legislation that would treat multiple attempts at child murder with at least some of the enforced stigma that follows sexual abuse. Perhaps some vestige of justice would be salvaged if the killer finds freedom to be more restrictive, and less peaceful, than incarceration.