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Families of Homicide Victims Support Passage of H.4184

Families of Homicide Victims Support Passage of H.4184 A coalition of families has spent countless hours raising awareness on the injustice of the recent Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling. The SJC ruled that sentencing a juvenile to life without the possibility of parole is cruel and unusual punishment, making the decision retroactive. This decision followed the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which declared that automatic life without the possibility of parole sentences for juvenile offenders were unconstitutional under the ban on “cruel and unusual punishment” in the Eighth Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling allows room for discretionary life without the chance of parole sentences. But, the Massachusetts SJC ruling removed all life without parole sentences for juveniles, allowing for the possibility of parole after serving only fifteen short years. This coalition is fighting to return justice to the victims of violent crimes. The families of Beth Brodie, Janet Downing, Amy Carnevale, Lewis Jennings, Bonnie Sue Mitchell and Virginia Woodward have joined together to be their voice - the voice of innocent victims. We were stunned when offender Frederick Christian was unanimously granted conditional parole, allowing release after an eight week Motivational Enhancement Program and subsequent one year sentence in a lower security Department of Corrections. The reality that the killers of our loved ones may also be granted parole feeds our fears. The promise that these killers would never impact our lives again has been broken. We feel that changing laws, and acting retroactively due to spurious scientific research, is irresponsible. We must now put our trust in the parole board. We hope that they will consider each case on its own merit, and that they will consider how these convicted killers spent their time in prison, the offender's role in the murder, and the brutality of the murder. These were violent, premeditated killings. A meaningful opportunity for a hearing has been granted, but parole may not be appropriate in all cases. On June 18th, the House passed bill H.4184, which would change the minimum time served before parole eligibility to 25-30 years in the most heinous cases. Additionally, if parole is denied, said killer may wait 10 years before he or she is eligible for parole again. This coalition feels that, if parole must be an option, that bill H.4184 is a fair compromise and we support it. The press is invited to contact our coalition for more information: justiceforbethbrodie@gmail.com

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