BOSTON (WWLP) – A new bill proposes to clarify when juveniles convicted of first degree murder are eligible for parole. The lawmakers behind the effort say that they want to be sure that the punishment for murder matches the seriousness of the crime.
The bipartisan bill proposes to set parole at 35 years for juveniles convicted of first degree murder.
In a 2012 case, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that it was cruel and unusual punishment for juveniles to serve a life prison sentence without the possibility of parole. The Massachusetts Supreme Court has interpreted this ruling to mean that all young people under 18-years-old are eligible for parole within 15 years of a first degree murder conviction. State lawmakers say this punishment is comparable to a second degree murder offense.
“We need to say that first degree murder is different, and it’s different because of the element of premeditation in which society has determined certainly represents a more dangerous threat,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester).
The family of Beth Brodie, a 15-year-old cheerleader from Groveland who was killed by a schoolmate, supports the bill. The murderer of their daughter could be granted early release under the Supreme Court’s ruling.