The Power of Labels: Murder & Society

By Ivan Kilgore

I’ve been looking at this for quite some time: the power of labels! Recently, I was speaking with one of the comrades who, up until Senate Bill 1437 was passed in California, had been serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole after being convicted in a first-degree murder case. His conviction was based solely on him being accessory to murder. Whereas, the jury found that he was just as culpable as the triggerman himself. All in all, he would serve some 26 years in prison before SB 1437 changed the game and freed him.

Notably, on September 30, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 1437. SB 1437 altered the state’s murder law by limiting who can be prosecuted for murder and felony murder. The three most important features of the law are 1) felony murder can now be prosecuted only when the accused had the intent to kill, 2) there can no longer be convictions for natural and probable consequences murder, and 3) the law is retroactive,

On September 30, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 1437. SB 1437 altered the state’s murder law by limiting who can be prosecuted for murder and felony murder. The three most important features of the law are 1) felony murder can now be prosecuted only when the accused had the intent to kill, 2) there can no longer be convictions for natural and probable consequences murder, and 3) the law is retroactive, meaning people convicted of felony murder under the old law can petition to have their sentences reduced. Meaning people convicted of felony murder under the old law can petition to have their sentences reduced.

What’s the difference between the murderer & the soldier? Read and learn.

During the course of our conversation, my friend mentioned he was recently interviewed for an upcoming episode on 60 Minutes. In a nutshell it’s about how one day he’s doing a life sentence deemed a threat to public safety, and then the next, “poof!” With a mere change of the law he is no longer a threat and is free after almost three decades in prison.

Ivan Kilgore, convicted at 26; sentenced to life without parole


My point? When you watch this episode of 60 Minutes, I want you to think about just how manipulative the criminal justice system is. Particularly, look at how with this case and countless others, including those where the triggerman is at fault, just how easily we are manipulated to condemn and label what we deem a threat to Public Safety one day and the next it’s an upstanding citizen freed after decades in prison on a wrongful conviction or some draconian law.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s