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TELL US: Should Convicted Teens Receive 'Fairer' Sentences?

New legislation is proposing teens convicted of murder before age 17 to be eligible for parole 15 years after being incarcerated.

Gov. Deval Patrick introduced a new piece of legislation on Monday in an effort to offer convicted teenagers a second chance earlier in their sentence. 

The proposal, "An Act to Reform the Juvenile Justice System in the Commonwealth", offers new plans regarding how the state treats teenagers who have been convicted of murder, according to MyFoxBoston.com.

Specifically, the plan aims "to create a fairer justice system for the state’s youth by extending the juvenile court jurisdiction" from age 17 to 18, and eliminating mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles convicted of first-degree murder, according to an announcement from the Executive Department Office of Gov. Patrick Monday. 

If the proposal is passed, anyone aged 14-17 years who has been charged with first- or second-degree murder would be tried in juvenile court and not as an adult. 

“Every violent felon should be held accountable for their actions, even youth. But in sentencing every felon's circumstances should be considered, too, and youth itself is a special circumstance,” Patrick said in a statement Monday. “It is time for the Commonwealth's laws to reflect the value, in accord with the Supreme Court, that young people deserve every opportunity for rehabilitation and reform.”

Currently, convicted murderers receive an automatic life sentence without the possibility of parole. Under the new proposal, however, those convicted would be eligible for parole 15 to 25 years after their incarceration. The juvenile court could also sentence life without parole after first considering several factors, including the person’s immaturity, ability to appreciate the risk associated with, and consequences of, the person’s criminal misconduct, whether the person acted alone, the person’s intellectual capacity, and the likelihood that the offender is capable of change and would benefit from rehabilitation, among others, according to the announcement Monday.

The Commonwealth currently has 62 people serving life sentences for murders committed between the ages of 15 to 17 years, according to MyFoxBoston.com.

The legislation follows a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that mandatory criminal sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole, imposed on defendants who were younger than 18 when they committed their crimes, were unconstitutional. 

Meanwhile, lawmakers have offered alternative proposals, according to Boston.com, one of which would keep teen murderers behind bars for a minimum of 35 years.

What do you think about the new proposal? Should convicted teens have a chance at earlier parole? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Luisa Polsinelli January 28, 2013 at 11:20 PM
I think we are to easy on our children today. If they can kill at any age then they should be treated just like everyone else that kills. If they can pull a Trigger, stab, or any other means take a life dont treat them as poor little children. They are aware of what they did and why.
imilda January 28, 2013 at 11:22 PM
How about the abortion.is a killing too. thats very bad killing babies.
BH January 29, 2013 at 12:21 AM
Imilda, completely different topic not related to this story. Avon why are you even posting if you don't base yoir comments on anything and you post "throwaway lines"? Are you that bored that you consciously feel the need to add input that you yourself don't even value or put any thought or effort into?
paul January 29, 2013 at 01:17 AM
The question is not about illegals, it's about letting someone out after 15 years. I don't like the idea of killers going free. Let the marijuana convicts out, all of them, and layoff some of the extra cops, court officers and prison guards that you wouldn't need any longer. Give the potheads a second chance, way less risky.
paul January 29, 2013 at 01:30 AM
Do you think the 12yrs Mary Bell did in an English jail rehabilitated her? I don't know much about economics except that our economy sucks right now, our taxes are too high and it costs between 40K and 50K to keep a person in prison for a year.
George Alvin Poff Jr. January 29, 2013 at 10:40 AM
If they murder do a public hanging that would save money too...
Xlat January 29, 2013 at 10:42 AM
It's sad how this country cares more about money than justice. whoever is between ages 13 n up. should know what's good or bad. If you the parents haven't taught you child about the good or wat is bad. Is your fault he or she took another life. Letting them out early is like saying sure it's ok kid don't kill next time.killers should be kept lock. No buts or excuses. Stop being soft and bring justice. We need it now more than ever.
josh gould January 29, 2013 at 10:43 AM
You do an adult crime you can do adult time. What gives a 15 year old the right to possibly get his life and freedom back when he has taken another's?
Trisha Lynn Dragon January 29, 2013 at 10:52 AM
How about no? Dead is dead. Victims aren't any less dead because the killer was a "child". Ridiculous how stupid this country is. We treat our teenagers like toddlers despite the very real and well documented evidence that at around 14-15 their adult biology is settling in. Puberty happens 12-13ish for most, there is a reason. We have to stop ignoring what humans are and how we work because of some bullpucky desire to keep our kids...kids. Doesn't work that way. We have kids with adult desires, thoughts, responsibilities (to a limited extent of course) and bodies and we haven't given them the tools and instructions needed to handle all that crap. There will always be kids who are monstrously defective. No matter, what they are going to end up worthless, in jail or dead. I firmly believe if you acknowledge right out of the gate that your child is his own person from day 1 and you begin teaching him to make choices that are age appropriate from toddlerhood up to the teen years we will have less of this crap.
Steve Hopkins January 29, 2013 at 12:34 PM
That's a ridiculous statement!
Patrick Maguire (Editor) January 29, 2013 at 01:37 PM
Two comments have been deleted. Please keep discussion on here civil.
Amy January 29, 2013 at 01:55 PM
A “fairer Justice system” would be to have these first degree killers, rapists, gang members etc, live with the Judges, Lawyers and the Governor who say it’s perfectly fine to release them back to your neighborhood and into society. They can pay for their sex changes too.
Jeanine January 29, 2013 at 03:33 PM
Only if our system becomes more rehabilatative than punitive including better recognition of mental illness which can rear it's ugly head only in the late teens and early 20s.
Avon Barksdale January 29, 2013 at 04:15 PM
It's hard to read idiocy on this level and not address it, it's like walking past a cardiac arrest victim without performing CPR.
Indiana January 29, 2013 at 04:36 PM
Yet people who spew their "intellectual drivel" are smarter than the rest of us are complete ly useless in the real world
Avon Barksdale January 29, 2013 at 06:01 PM
Whatever makes you feel better about yourself.
Chris A January 29, 2013 at 06:06 PM
I'm not at all surprised by this proposal from Deval because this is the type of stuff liberals do. Early parole should be on a case-by-cases bases. You think those teenage kids in New Hampshire who hacked to death that mother with a machete as she shielded her severly injured 10 year old daughter deserve early parole? This state made a HUGE mistake by not electing Charlie Baker.
Chris A January 29, 2013 at 06:16 PM
Agreed Indiana. And...they usually live at home with mom because no good paying job would want to deal with their mouth.
Avon Barksdale January 29, 2013 at 06:49 PM
Um, I'm quite sure that each parole case would be handled on a case-by-case basis. If you had actually read the article, you'd have come to that conclusion as well.
Steve C January 29, 2013 at 08:11 PM
Paul, Would it save millions? Has anyone performed a detailed study on the cost of repeat offenders vs not releasing them at all. Maybe the cost of repeat offenders, additional trials, police costs, insurance costs, and all of the subsequent costs to the victims is actually greater than that of the cost to keep a criminal incarcerated. I have no idea what the answer is but would like to see the cost of repeat offenders on society.
Gretchen Robinson January 29, 2013 at 08:17 PM
wow, the minds (If I can call them that) are really closed today. The assumptions behind some of these comments are nasty and barbaric. Hello, folks, it's 2013. We know a lot about the human mind, how it works, how to get it regulated, how to help people control their behaviors. The fact is most who serve their sentence get out. Do you want someone next to you who endured the barbarism of the prisons of the 1800s and early 1900s? Because as YOU sow, so shall you reap. If you read the article, Patrick is proposing more effective ways to deal with people while they are in. So stop hyperventilating and venting and start thinking. For once.
Richard W. Lunt January 29, 2013 at 10:07 PM
The Queen of closed minds speaks... Gretchen teenagers who commit a crime such as murder are old enough to do life in prison for their horrible crime and that's what they deserve, life in prison without parole, get a grip on yourself.
deb of see-attleboro January 30, 2013 at 09:22 AM
Yes, Gretchen, it is 2013. But to insist they "know a lot about the human mind, how it works, how to get it regulated, how to help people control their behaviors" is debatable....on many levels. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they don't know much more than they did in 1913. As is the case throughout history: THEY know just enough to be dangerous, and WE are ignorant enough to trust in them.
Mike January 30, 2013 at 11:53 AM
If we know a lot about the human mind, how it works, how to get it regulated, how to help people control their behaviors then there wouldn't be repeat offenders, even in the less than heinous offenses.
DJ January 30, 2013 at 01:02 PM
Bingo!
Traci Longa January 30, 2013 at 02:25 PM
Coincidentally I was reading an article yesterday about a defense attorney in Vegas. She has a very interesting perspective and opinion on this coming from the front lines of a court system... www.theveldgroup.com/www/Las%20Vegas%20Life%20Article.pdf
Janet Sroczynski January 31, 2013 at 10:21 PM
Speaking of Las Vegas, there is the media-clip from Inside Edition's Jim Moret: "People Live in the Sewer Tunnels Beneath Las Vegas" at: http://www.AOL.com/video/people-live-in-the-sewer-tunnels-beneath-las-vegas/517657183/?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cd129%7Csec3_Ink2%26pLid%3D264100
Brandy G. February 01, 2013 at 04:36 PM
@paul, Mary Bell's case took place in the UK and their prison system is different from ours. I don't know if their system works on rehab in line with penalty, but I can say that ours does not and it should.
Jerry Chase February 08, 2013 at 02:37 AM
Where is the evidence to support the governor's rationale for "fairer" sentences? There isn't any.
cici January 14, 2014 at 06:51 AM
OK, so I read some of these and I feel like it should always be case by case in every legal situation. I definitely do not think any offenders in max security prisons should be let out just because. But I also do not think a child who is 17 should be with the adults. Prison is rough and it changes you forever. If there was any hope for rehabilitation after being thrown to wolves so to say, all hope would be gone then. Murder is a horrible, almost unforgivable crime and punishment is necessary. I find it interesting that Josh Gould,a convicted murder, who was 17 when the crime was committed, says on this blog that he thinks if you do the crime then do the time. I went to grade school with him and my father was in prison with him. He was a child and it took all my dad had to leave him there because of that. I do not know exactly what role he played in the murder but I do not think he should not be in prison with the adults. My thoughts and prayers go to all families affected. Rehabilitation has to be wanted before it can work.

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