NEW: Patrick Files Bill To Reform Juvenile Justice System
Monday, January 28, 2013
“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,” said Patrick. “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.”
The legislation, “An Act to Reform the Juvenile Justice System in the Commonwealth,” follows the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Miller v. Alabama, which found that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole were unconstitutional for defendants under the age of 18 when they when they committed their crimes.
“Governor Patrick has proposed this legislation to create an improved justice system for our youth and for our Commonwealth,” said Massachusetts Child Advocate Gail Garinger.
“As every parent knows, teenagers are different from adults – they can act in the moment, be impulsive, and be unduly influenced by their peers and by adults. After the Supreme Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama, Massachusetts judges must take these differences into account in sentencing, even when the adolescent has committed the worst of acts – the taking of another’s life. It is wrong to give up on any young person without considering the circumstances of his crime, his life experiences, and without asking whether he is capable of being rehabilitated before we sentence him to spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.”
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