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A Father’s Day wish for two dads impacted by murder

Posted by James Alan Fox, Crime and Punishment  June 20, 2010 01:30 PM

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It’s Father’s Day. I’m a little sad that this is my first without my son Alex nearby. He’s now a flight instructor many states away, and must work this Sunday, like all other Sundays, teaching aspiring student pilots who can only schedule lessons on weekends. But at least I know he’s happy doing what he loves -- flying in skies graced with unlimited visibility. And that makes me happy.

Still, my thoughts today are focused on two dads for whom this special day is not anything like it should be. I am thinking about Jon Alenson whose bittersweet gift this year was to be granted some measure of justice for the 2007 murder of his 15-year-old son James at the hands of a schoolmate at Lincoln-Sudbury High School. My thoughts are also with Paul Odgren, whose son John was recently convicted and sentenced to life without parole for the murder. Although Paul can do more than just visit a gravesite, he will pass through oseveral locked gates to reach the visiting room at the Bridgewater State Hospital to spend a few hours with his boy under the constant gaze of a team of correctional officers.

Murder cases often leave two families stunned and saddened. While all of us easily find compassion in our hearts for the fathers of murdered children, let us not forget those men who have lost their sons (and sometimes daughters) to the custody of the prison system.

My Father’s Day wishes and prayers for strength go out to Jon Alenson, Paul Odgren, and all dads, on either side of murder, with deeply broken hearts and tragically shattered lives.

Author's note: You can follow me on twitter at @jamesalanfox for notifications of new blog postings. Also, you can find me on the Web at or contact me by e-mail at

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

James Alan Fox is the Lipman Family Professor of Criminology, Law, and Public Policy at Northeastern University. He has written 18 books, including his newest, "Violence and Security on Campus: From Preschool through College." More »

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