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Our view: Keep killer behind bars

Published: Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014 5:30 a.m. CST

Mark A. Smith is a brutal serial killer. He remains a menace to society. He must spend his remaining days in prison.

But every three years, the surviving family members of his victims appear before the Illinois Prisoner Review Board and fight to keep him behind bars.

Every three years, we write in this space that Smith must never go free.

We repeat that declaration today.

Smith was convicted in 1970 of kidnapping 27-year-old Jean Bianchi from a McHenry laundromat and killing her. He also was convicted of raping and strangling 17-year-old McHenry West High School student Jean Ann Lingenfelter. And he was convicted of killing a woman from Arkansas. He said he killed a woman from Des Plaines. And he told police that he killed eight women while serving in the military in Germany.

Smith was sentenced to 500 years in prison for the two McHenry County murders and the murder in Arkansas. But he became eligible for parole in 1980.

Every three years since then, Smith has a chance to persuade review board members that he should be released from prison. So every three years, the surviving family members tell their stories of loss, and pain, and anger.

Smith’s 13th parole hearing was Wednesday in Chicago. The previous 12 times, the review board voted to deny Smith’s parole.

He must be denied again.

It is unfortunate that the survivors of Smith’s victims are forced to relive the tragedy of their loss so frequently.

Fortunately, the law regarding parole has changed significantly since 1970. If Smith were convicted now of these horrible crimes, there is little chance that he ever would have been eligible for parole.

But because he was convicted under the old system, Smith will continue to come up for parole every three years.

And every three years, the review board must continue to deny him.

He is a cold-blooded killer who deserves to die in prison.

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