Dig Boston: The Fight for Life in Massachusetts
In 1997, Massachusetts lawmakers ended the death penalty but put in place life without parole (LWOP). Years later, several studies reveal that the expansion of LWOP sentences is counterproductive to public safety. Now a new bill in Massachusetts aims to provide all incarcerated people with a chance at parole. Jean Trounstine highlights the state’s “fight for life” in her new piece for Dig Boston:
“An Act to Reduce Mass Incarceration (H.3358) has been filed by Rep. Livingstone. The same bill has been filed in the Senate by Sen. Boncore (S.826). The bill promises parole eligibility for all after 25 years and is retroactive for those already serving a LWOP sentence. So far 28 legislators have signed on to the House bill, and 14 in the Senate. There will be a hearing this fall in the Judiciary Committee, potentially followed by a vote in the Massachusetts Legislature. Vermont is also considering such legislation that would end LWOP for all.
Livingstone emphasized that there is no guarantee of parole release with the bill. Twenty-nine percent of juvenile lifers and 24% of adult lifers have received positive votes for parole since former Chair Paul M. Treseler took over the Parole Board in September 2015. These are records I have kept from when he took over until January 2019, when he became an associate justice of the Boston Municipal Court. It often takes two, three, four, or even more hearings for a petitioner to earn parole. If successful, serving the remainder of one’s life in society means lifetime parole supervision for anyone with a life sentence.”