Governor Deval Patrick filed legislation on Monday that will reform the state's juvenile justice system by expanding the juvenile court's jurisdiction to 18 years old from 17 years old and removing mandatory life sentences without parole for juniles with first degree murder convictions.
"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.
Source: Go Local Worcester News