Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


January 9, 2014

SJC parole ruling for juveniles misguided


In a statement, the Ritzer family said it felt betrayed that the SJC showed more concern for the rights of killers than compassion for their victims.

“This decision should not be applauded, rather overturned as an act of justice and humanity to victims of violent crimes and their families,” the family said.

Finegold, whose 2nd Essex and Middlesex District represents Andover, Dracut, Lawrence and Tewksbury, told reporter Dustin Luca the ruling “caught a lot of people off guard. I disagree with the decision and I do believe it should be life without parole for someone who commits a crime like what has happened.”

Finegold said the Legislature “may have to look into a constitutional amendment. We need to look into legislation.”

That won’t be easy. Passing a constitutional amendment in Massachusetts is a complex task requiring the support of a majority in a joint convention of the Legislature in two successive sessions. Then, the proposed amendment is placed on the ballot for the consideration of voters.

The SJC decision is as misguided as the law the U.S. Supreme Court corrected in its 2012 ruling. The high court determined that, in the case of juveniles convicted of murder, a judge must be able to weigh the facts of a case in establishing a sentence. The SJC prohibits judges from weighing the facts of individual cases. Just as mandatory life without parole sentences are an inappropriate one-size-fits-all remedy, so, too, is the SJC’s blanket prohibition of any life without parole sentences.

The Legislature should act to remedy the injustice the court has imposed on the families of the victims of juvenile killers.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Question of the Week
Pictures of the Week