The Norman Transcript

Community News Network

December 30, 2013

Teen killers could get parole under Mass. high court ruling

(Continued)

SALEM, Mass. —

It’s a ruling that goes beyond the United States Supreme Court’s holding in Miller vs. Alabama, said Blodgett, who was recently elected to serve as head of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association.

The Miller decision, like the SJC ruling, pointed to recent research showing that the brains of teenagers are still developing, and concluded that it is a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment to summarily sentence someone to life without parole under those circumstances.

But the Massachusetts court went further, said Blodgett. While the federal ruling required only that juvenile killers get a hearing on the issue of whether they can be rehabilitated, the SJC decision does not require such a proceeding.

Blodgett notes that prior to a change in the law that allowed teens age 14 and over to be tried as adults in murder cases, all of the convicted killers were given “transfer hearings,” where the issue of whether they were suitable candidates for rehabilitation was evaluated by a judge based on testimony from doctors and others.

Blodgett said that though he and other prosecutors agree that teen brains are different from those of adults, that distinction is already factored into decisions on whether to charge a teenager with first-degree murder.

“We’ve always understood that,” said Blodgett. “That’s why district attorneys have robust juvenile and young adult offender diversion programs, to give recognition to the fact that juveniles sometimes make mistakes.

“There are some crimes that are so abhorrent and so heinous a juvenile should be sentenced to life without parole,” said Blodgett. “We don’t charge first-degree murder unless the facts are so heinous and horrible that it warrants a first-degree charge.”

The cases he and his prosecutors will have to reopen and prepare for arguments to the Parole Board — hearings Blodgett has been told will happen “sooner rather than later” — involve crimes that were planned, and involved stalking, atrocity or the infliction of pain.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Community News Network
  • Sunburn isn't the only sign of summer that can leave you itchy and blistered

    You've got a rash. You quickly rule out the usual suspects: You haven't been gardening or hiking or even picnicking, so it's probably not a plant irritant such as poison ivy or wild parsnip; likewise, it's probably not chiggers or ticks carrying Lyme disease; and you haven't been swimming in a pond, which can harbor the parasite that causes swimmer's itch.

    July 30, 2014

  • Survey results in legislation to battle sexual assault on campus

    Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill joined a bipartisan group of senators Wednesday to announce legislation that aims to reduce the number of sexual assaults on college campuses.

    July 30, 2014

  • An alarming threat to airlines that no one's talking about

    It's been an abysmal year for the flying public. Planes have crashed in bad weather, disappeared over the Indian Ocean and tragically crossed paths with anti-aircraft missiles over Ukraine.

    July 30, 2014

  • Sharknado.jpg Sharknado 2 set to attack viewers tonight

    In the face of another "Sharknado" TV movie (the even-more-inane "Sharknado 2: The Second One," premiering Wednesday night on Syfy), there isn't much for a critic to say except to echo what the characters themselves so frequently scream when confronted by a great white shark spinning toward them in a funnel cloud:
    "LOOK OUT!!"

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140729-AMX-GIVHAN292.jpg Spanx stretches into new territory with jeans, but promised magic is elusive

    The Spanx empire of stomach-flattening, thigh-slimming, jiggle-reducing foundation garments has expanded to include what the brand promises is the mother of all body-shaping miracles: Spanx jeans.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Medical marijuana opponents' most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research

    Opponents of marijuana legalization are rapidly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Simply put, the public understands that however you measure the consequences of marijuana use, the drug is significantly less harmful to users and society than tobacco or alcohol.

    July 29, 2014

  • linda-ronstadt.jpg Obama had crush on First Lady of Rock

    Linda Ronstadt remained composed as she walked up to claim her National Medal of Arts at a White House ceremony Monday afternoon.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can black women have it all?

    In a powerful new essay for the National Journal, my friend Michel Martin makes a compelling case for why we need to continue the having-it-all conversation.

    July 29, 2014

  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • 'Rebel' mascot rising from the dead

    Students and alumni from a Richmond, Va.-area high school are seeking to revive the school's historic mascot, a Confederate soldier known as the "Rebel Man," spurring debate about the appropriateness of public school connections to the Civil War and its icons.

    July 28, 2014