Sen. Richard Moore, Legislators Introduce Bill on Juvenile Sentences in Murder Convictions

The bill comes soon after court rulings that prohibit life without parole sentences for juveniles.

Senate President Pro Tempore Richard T. Moore, D-Uxbridge, speaks at a State House press conference. Credit: contributed
Senate President Pro Tempore Richard T. Moore, D-Uxbridge, speaks at a State House press conference. Credit: contributed
Editor's Note: the following release was provided by the office of state Sen. Richard Moore (D-Uxbridge).

Senate President Pro Tempore Richard T. Moore, D-Uxbridge, joined Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr, R-Gloucester, Sen. Barry R. Finegold, D-Andover, and a bipartisan, bicameral coalition of other legislators in filing legislation requiring juveniles convicted of first degree murder to serve a minimum of 35 years before becoming eligible for parole.

The legislative measure comes on the heels of a 2012 United States Supreme Court decision holding that it is cruel and unusual punishment for states to require all juveniles who commit the crime of murder to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, and a decision rendered last year by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling that all juveniles convicted of first degree murder under the age of 18 must be eligible for parole.

"For years, Massachusetts law ensured that convicted juvenile first degree murderers served appropriate sentences," stated Sen. Moore. "That has since changed with the recent judicial interpretations. This bill is therefore needed to provide justice for the murder victims and their families, and for the safety of our communities. We must act now!"

"In the wake of court decisions eliminating life without parole for these offenders, we must act now to ensure that those murderers serve the sentences their crimes deserve, and that we protect public safety from their premature release," said Sen. Tarr. "If we must consider parole in these cases, it must be done with respect to victims and their families and the security of our communities as much as to the rights conferred by the judiciary."

"The Supreme Court said that it is cruel and unusual punishment that a juvenile would have to spend their life behind bars without parole, but it is also cruel and unusual punishment that after only 15 years and every 5 years thereafter, a victim's family would have to relive such a horrible tragedy," said Sen. Finegold.

The legislation, which meets the recommendation of District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett and the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, was filed on Tuesday and currently has a total of 23 sponsors. The deadline to sign-on to the public safety bill is Friday, January 31st at 5:00pm.

Currently, due to the courts' recent rulings, Massachusetts now requires parole eligibility of 15 to 25 years after a first degree murder conviction, which is the same period for a second degree murder conviction. The new process will now allow families of victims to appear before the parole board to provide testimony and relive the tragic details concerning the death of a loved one, making it difficult to ever truly recover from such a horrific event.

Following the January 31st deadline, the bill will be assigned to a legislative committee for further review and action.

For more information about Sen. Moore, visit www.senatormoore.com, or follow him on Facebook (www.facebook.com/senatormoore) or Twitter (www.twitter.com/SenDickMoore).


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