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Mass. Eyes U.S. Supreme Court's Ruling On Teen Life Sentences

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Dozens of Massachusetts inmates could be affected by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling Monday against mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles convicted of murder.

Teenager John Odgren, during his murder trial in April 2010 (AP FIle)
Teenager John Odgren, during his murder trial in April 2010 (AP FIle)

As WBUR's Deborah Becker reports for our Newscast unit:

The ruling has the potential to affect about 50 Massachusetts inmates who are serving life-without-parole sentences for crimes they committed before age 18.

Massachusetts child advocate Gail Garinger says she's ecstatic about the ruling.

"As a former juvenile court judge I've seen the kind of turnabouts that young adults can make in their lives," she said.

A juvenile convicted of a crime like murder can still be sent to life in prison without the possibility of parole, but that would no longer be the mandatory sentence.

The Massachusetts District Attorneys Association had argued that the justice system has checks in place to ensure that a murder charge against a juvenile is used wisely.

The Associated Press adds:

Several high-profile murder cases in Massachusetts have involved minors, including Joshua Fernandes, who was convicted last week of first-degree murder for the May 2010 killing of a 14-year-old neighbor.

John Odgren was also sentenced to first-degree murder without parole for stabbing another student to death at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School in 2007.

Fernandes and Odgren were both 16 at the time of the killings.

This program aired on June 25, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.