BOSTON — Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is filing legislation this week that would make significant changes to the state’s juvenile justice laws. The governor’s bill follows last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said mandatory life without parole prison sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional.
The proposal calls for several reforms including raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction in Massachusetts from 17 to 18-years-old and keeping all juvenile cases — including murder trials — in juvenile, not adult, court.
Under the governor’s bill, a juvenile could still be sentenced to life in prison in first-degree murder cases but in some cases a young offender would be eligible for parole after 15 years.
Four other bills have been filed to change state juvenile justice laws after last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling.