On juvenile lifer sentencing, will Massachusetts do the right thing?

By Jean Trounstine, Truthout 
July 7, 2014

There’s a crisis in juvenile justice in Massachusetts. The Senate is poised to pass its version of Bill H.4184, which aims to keep juveniles who are sentenced to first-degree murder locked up for 20 to 30 years – before they get a shot at parole. The bill, which passed the Democratic House on June 18 with a stunning 129-to-16 vote, would set back the state’s leadership on youth justice. Massachusetts is known for its excellent statewide juvenile courts, well-trained judges, a juvenile defense bar and one of the best Department of Youth Services in the country. But this bill is packed with ominous new measures that threaten the spirit of recent state and federal court rulings calling for meaningful opportunities for juveniles to transform.

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