CRIME VICTIM’S RIGHTS: 40 years Later, Historic Victims’ Rights Leader Roberta Roper Still Fighting for Victims in Court; Parole Commission Attempts to Silence Victims’ Voices Once Again


CRIME VICTIM’S RIGHTS: 40 years Later, Historic Victims’ Rights Leader Roberta Roper Still Fighting for Victims in Court; Parole Commission Attempts to Silence Victims’ Voices Once Again


LA PLATA, MD — Over ten years ago, the United States Supreme Court ruled adolescent brains do not completely develop until the age of 25, and because of that, juveniles should not be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

At that time, the Maryland parole system needed the governor to grant parole to a person sentenced to life. Historically, parole was being granted to lifers, but that changed in 1995 when the incoming Governor declared that he would not grant parole to lifers.

In 2016, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the State of Maryland challenging the parole system for juveniles sentenced to life in prison, stating the setup was unconstitutional since youths did not have a meaningful chance for release.


In the settlement of the case, the State agreed to consider making a change to its parole regulations. However, the State then adopted new regulations that changed not only the parole process for juveniles but also the challenged regulation affecting adult parole hearings. Also, last year, the legislature voted to remove the Governor from the parole process.

When reviewing a case for parole, a number of factors must be taken into consideration, including the circumstances of the crime and an updated victim impact statement. This portion of the consideration allows for survivors the right to be heard during the parole hearing with an 8-minute Victim Impact Statement. In a new movement occurring in Maryland for a new parole regulation which states that after an initial parole hearing, the circumstances of the crime have a diminished significance on the parole commissioners’ decision, again silencing survivors’ voices.

An official complaint against the Parole Commission has been filed by historical victims’ rights advocate Roberta Roper and the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center (MCVRC) on behalf of Roper and several other aggrieved survivors of murder victims. MCVRC was founded by Roper in 1982 and is the nation’s premiere victims’ rights organization. The complaint will appear in the Charles County Circuit Court before Judge Donine Carrington Martin on Wednesday, October 12, 2022, at 9:30 am.

Kurt Wolfgang, Executive Director of MCVRC, states, “By now, I think most of us know that there is a movement in this country to diminish the responsibility of criminals who have committed violent crimes. The people who want this also want to make crime victims as irrelevant to sentencing as possible. People need to be deterred from committing crimes and as a society also need proper penalties and sentences to keep our society from coming unglued. Violent criminals should not be treated as merely misguided instead of those who must be punished for their horrific acts.”

“Murderers should not expect to be released from prison when they have forever deprived someone of their time on this earth and deprived the victim’s family.

Kurt Wolfgang, Executive Director of MCVRC

Wolfgang goes on to say, “Murderers should not expect to be released from prison when they have forever deprived someone of their time on this earth and deprived the victim’s family. A rapist shatters the life and well-being of someone. These obvious consequences of their outrageous acts should never, never, never be looked on in a diminished fashion. The insult of this diminishment is especially hurtful because it is intended to improve the plight of the violent criminal who has caused the problem in the first place.”

MCVRC is focused on educating the community this complaint was filed and, in an effort to bring additional awareness to the legislative process and its impact on our citizens.

About Maryland Crime Victims’ Rights Center, Inc.

Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center Inc. ensures that victims of crime receive justice and are treated with dignity and compassion through comprehensive victims’ rights and services. MCVRC is a grassroots non-profit organization that became a statewide organization dedicated to serving the interest of crime victims throughout Maryland. MCVRC is the longest-running and largest legal clinic serving victims of all crimes in this country. MCVRC attorneys have argued in State, Federal and the Supreme Court on Victim Right’s issues which have resulted in major legal victories.

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Jack Ronald Jones admits raping Stephanie Roper, hitting her in the head with a logging chain, and setting her corpse on fire…


Md. Man Convicted Of Roper Murder
By Eugene L. Meyer

September 30, 1982

A 26-year-old Southern Maryland man was convicted today of kidnapping, rape, and premeditated murder in the slaying of Stephanie Ann Roper, a Frostburg State College honor student he had offered to help after her car became disabled on a lonely road in rural Prince George’s County.

Jack Ronald Jones could be sentenced to die in Maryland’s gas chamber, but he displayed no emotion when the jury delivered its verdict after three hours of deliberation.

“Justice has prevailed, that’s all,” said Roberta Roper, mother of the 22-year-old art student who was awarded a posthumous degree magna cum laude.

After the verdict, the mother thanked C. Clarke Raley, the St. Mary’s County state’s attorney, who prosecuted the case. “You can’t bring Stephanie back,” Raley told reporters a few minutes later.

Jones was accused with Jerry Lee Beatty, 17, of murdering Stephanie Roper in the early morning hours of April 3. Beatty, scheduled to be tried separately next month, testified against Jones yesterday, asserting that his friend fired the shot that killed Roper and then set her afire. Under cross-examination, Beatty acknowledged his attorney had told him he would almost certainly escape the death penalty if Jones were convicted of firing the fatal shot.

The case was tried here in Baltimore County because a judge ruled that pretrial publicity might prejudice a defense in Southern Maryland.

The jury began deliberating today after two hours of closing arguments and rebuttal marked by lively sparring between Raley and E. Allen Shepherd, one of Jones’ two court-appointed lawyers.

Raley accused the defense of “trying to insinuate” that Roper was “anything other than a most wonderful girl.” Shepherd angrily denied this and accused the prosecutor of theatrics that he said “insult the jury’s intelligence.”

Raley made his closing arguments almost in a whisper, his voice rising only occasionally for emphasis, and he made use of the murder weapon, a .22-caliber rifle, and a logging chain with which Roper was struck.

Saying at one point that Jones had hit her with the chain, the prosecutor swung it in the air, almost striking Shepherd, seated nearby. Raley also brandished the rifle as he described evidence that he said showed Jones had shot Roper once in the forehead when she tried to escape.

Raley said Roper had been subjected to the “most violent, unmitigated terror” imaginable, as the two men who first offered her assistance failed to return her to a friend’s home as promised, then drove her to an abandoned house near the Patuxent River, repeatedly raping and eventually killing her.

The prosecutor referred to the two men, including his star witness Beatty, as “two alleged people” who “do not truly belong to the human race.” He asked the jury, “Who can think in terms of any kind of justification, mitigation, excuse? Are we fools?”

Noting that Jones had allegedly borrowed the rifle from a friend to hunt deer, Raley referred to Roper as a “disoriented doe or fawn” when, staggering from the blow of the logging chain, she attempted to flee her abductors.

“The very day the young fawn is killed,” Raley said, Jones and Beatty had a “macabre, inhuman discussion” of mutilating her remains to prevent identification. “If you have not committed the most heinous crime, no thought is given to such inhumane things,” Raley said. Police found the body on Easter weekend, missing both hands.

Shepherd sought to impeach Beatty as an unreliable witness who had lied to police, to a state psychiatrist and to the jurors. He called him a “cold, selfish person with probably no conscience at all, who would lie for his own benefit.”

Beatty was “very likely the person who shot Stephanie Roper when Jack Ronald Jones wasn’t present,” Shepherd asserted, consistent with his client’s statement to police that he struck but never shot the woman.

After the verdict, Circuit Judge Walter R. Hail scheduled testimony to begin next Wednesday on whether Jones should receive the death penalty. Jones may leave the decision to the jury or elect to have the judge determine his fate.

After the jury was dismissed and given a sheriff’s escort past the television cameras, Roberta Roper thanked a dozen or so friends and neighbors who had regularly attended the trial. We wouldn’t have made it through this week without all of you.” said Roper, who lives near Upper Marlboro. “So, from Steffie and everyone in Steffie’s family, thanks.”



SID*Last NameFirst NameMiddle NameDate of Birth
DOC IDHolding Facility
Maryland Correctional Training Center

Address:  18800 Roxbury Rd., Hagerstown, MD 21746

(Editor’s Note: Credits for photos and graphics to The Enterprise and The Washington Post) 


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