The Massachusetts District Attorneys Association is urging the Legislature to increase the parole eligibility of juveniles convicted of first degree murder from 15 to 35 years in response to the recent Supreme Judicial Court’s decision that mandates that all juveniles convicted of first degree murder to be parole eligible after 15 years.
In a letter sent to legislators today, MDAA President and Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said, “...the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association believes this decision is particularly burdensome to the families of the victims of juvenile murderers, as they are now subjected to the possibility that their loved ones’ killers will be released.”
“While not ideal, 35 years of incarceration would provide victims’ families with some sense of justice and provide a small measure of comfort and security to the community in which the murder occurred.”
Massachusetts prosecutors also noted that they already weigh a defendant’s maturity among many other factors, including premeditation, the atrocity and cruelty of the crime, when seeking a murder indictment against a person under 18. The use of that discretion means that only a small fraction of juvenile killers – the worst of the worst – are ever convicted of first-degree murder.