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The Challenges Of Reentry For 'Juvenile Lifers' Released On Parole17:59
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Greg Diatchenko, now 52, sits in Winthrop Square Park in Harvard Square. When he was 17, Diatchenko was sent to prison for life for fatally stabbing a 55-year-old. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Greg Diatchenko, now 52, sits in Winthrop Square Park in Harvard Square. When he was 17, Diatchenko was sent to prison for life for fatally stabbing a 55-year-old. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
This article is more than 4 years old.

Imagine growing up in prison — spending decades there — and then suddenly finding yourself on the outside. It's a chance to start a new life, but in a world that is completely unfamiliar, with no skills or training. You also have a criminal record, which makes full integration difficult.

That's the challenge faced by so-called "juvenile lifers," who were sentenced to life in prison as teenagers, but are now being released on parole.

It follows decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that found automatic life sentences for juveniles without the possibility of parole unconstitutional.

The result: Over the past two years, 11 men have been paroled in Massachusetts.

WBUR's Deborah Becker spent time with two of them: 52-year-old Greg Diatchenko, who was convicted for fatally stabbing a man to death when he was 17; and 41-year-old Joe Donovan, who was sent to prison when he was 17, for killing an MIT student.

Guest

Josh Dohan, director of the youth advocacy division at the Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services.

Jim McCarthy, former parole officer.

This segment aired on September 8, 2016.

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