Weeked Read: Should Juveniles Convicted of First-Degree Murder Be Given a Second Chance?

On progressive news site Truthout last week, activist Jean Trounstine wrote about limitations to a new bill passed by the Massachusetts Senate Tuesday allowing juveniles convicted of first-degree murder to become eligible for parole after serving between 20 and 30 years of their sentence. Trounstine advocates for rehabilitation, rather than prolonged imprisonment, on the premise that the youngsters were not given the opportunity to mature.

These juveniles are not the monsters so often painted by the media. Certainly many of the crimes are especially heinous,” she wrote. “But while many cases detail horrendous crimes committed by juveniles, there is most often a terrifying story behind the lives of such youth.”

Meanwhile, those on the other side — including families with loved ones lost — have stood in steadfast opposition of the bill.

“You take someone’s life away, you should pay with yours,” said Erin Downing, 37, in a May 2014 article for the Liberty Voice. Her mother, Janet, was stabbed nearly 100 times by her brother’s 15-year-old friend.

Opponents of the current bill hope to pass a separate measure, Bill S.2008, that requires convicted juveniles to serve a minimum of 35 years — at least 15 years longer than the present cutoff of 20 years.

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