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Families of Victims Urge Legislators to Prevent Parole Eligibility for Juvenile Murderers

Do you think murderers convicted as juveniles should be eligible for parole?

Patch file photo. Credit: Napa Valley Patch.
Patch file photo. Credit: Napa Valley Patch.

The families of murder victims and public officials are calling on state lawmakers to prevent the parole eligibility of juveniles convicted of first degree murder.

Among those appearing before the Joint Committee on The Judiciary Wednesday was Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, who urged The Legislature to "restore some measure of justice for murder victims' families," and increase the parole eligibility of juveniles convicted of first degree murder from 15 to 35 years.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently ruled juveniles may not be sentenced to life without parole as it violates Article 26 of the Massachusetts Constitution which protects against cruel and unusual punishment.

"Because the ruling was retroactive, the families of the victims of the 63 convicts currently serving life without parole for a murder they committed when they were a juvenile must now face the possibility that their loved ones killer could walk the streets again. In my mind, this is unconscionable," Blodgett said.

According to this story in The Eagle Tribune, the families of five victims - Amy Carnevale, Beth Brodie, Janet Downing, Lewis Jennings and Bonnie Sue Mitchell - presented Gov. Deval Patrick with a petition signed by more than 15,000 people demanding that their killers be prevented from being paroled.

Blodgett went on to say that while not ideal, increasing parole eligibility to 35 years balances the court's concern that juveniles should be given the opportunity to reform themselves with the grave nature of the crime and its impact on the victims' families.  

"The criminal justice system can only offer limited solace to families of the victims who are murdered," Blodgett said in a release. "Nothing can be done to return their loved one.  No one can give back the weddings, graduations, birthdays and other milestones of life that have been torn away from them by a cold blooded, pre-meditated, cruel murder."
Waverly Watchdog May 15, 2014 at 12:04 PM
****** WORST HEADLINE EVER !! ****** ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The headline implies the EXACT OPPOSITE of the story content. GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER, Patch.
o May 15, 2014 at 03:23 PM
Hi Waverly Watchdog! When we say "increase parole eligibility" we are referring to an increase in the number of years that would have to be served before becoming eligible for parole.
Waverly Watchdog May 15, 2014 at 03:34 PM
Well, to me, 'increase parole eligibility' means to make more people eligible for parole, so murders can get out earlier. A BAD message, IMO. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thank you for changing the headline.
J. Parker May 16, 2014 at 02:32 PM
There is something drastically wrong with a youngster that would maliciously murder anyone. Leitting them out on the streets won't change that.

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