Carneal is the first school shooter eligible for parole in Kentucky. He also could very well become the first school shooter granted parole in the United States.
On Tuesday, Carneal was asked about his mental health, his behavior for the last 25 years in prison, and most importantly his plans if he were released.
Ladeidra Jones, chairperson for the Kentucky Parole Board asked Carneal, “Do you think it would be in the best interest of the commonwealth if the board gave you an opportunity of parole?”
Carneal answered, “I think I could do a lot of good out there, I think I could benefit the people as a whole.”
After having 25 years to prepare for this moment, the parole board said Carneal failed to submit paperwork articulating his plans if he were to be released.
“You’re telling us what your parents are going to do, but we need to know most importantly what you plan to do,” Jones asked.
Carneal said, “I think one of the most crucial parts is maintaining mental health care – that would be very beneficial for me.”
During the Tuesday hearing, Carneal was asked why he committed the crimes he did when he was just 14 years old and suffering from undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenia.
“I was hearing things,” Carneal said.
“Were voices telling you to do something on Dec. 1, 1997,” Jones asked.
“Yes ma’am,” Carneal said. “Take the gun out of the backpack, and hold it in front of me and shoot. There’s no excuse or justification for what I did, I’m just offering an explanation.”
Carneal said he still hears voices to this day and sees violent imagery in his head, but has learned how to control it.
“How can the board be certain that when you have these thoughts with the violent imagery, that you will not act on those,” Jones asked.
“I haven’t acted on them in decades,” Carneal responded.
Carneal said he’s completed programs in prison, got his GED, and even took college classes and anger management training.
However, Missy Jenkins Smith, who was paralyzed during the school shooting, shared that she was not convinced he wouldn’t commit a crime, once he was out.
“Even if he tried to improve himself, that doesn’t make the victims feel any more comfortable,” Smith said. “He’s still hearing voices is very concerning and I, as a victim, would feel uncomfortable, and I don’t anyone else to feel like a victim like I did.”
Carneal added that sometimes he thinks he deserves to be killed, but would like the opportunity to try and do good for society.
The two-member panel from the parole board did not reach an agreement Tuesday, so they are set to deliberate again Monday, September 26th on whether to release Carneal, or have him serve out his life sentence.
If the board rules against his release, it can also decide how long Carneal will have to wait before his next opportunity for parole. The link to the livestream can be found here.