EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Cyntoia Brown & the "51-To-Life" Project: Massachusetts

This is the twenty-second in a series of posts on the "51-To-Life" Project. In Tennessee, if a juvenile is convicted of first-degree murder, there are two sentencing options: (1) life without the possibility of parole; or (2) life with the possibility of parole, with that possibility only existing after the juvenile has been incarcerated for 51 years. In this post, I will explain why Massachusetts treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee. 

In its 2013 opinion in Diatchenko v. District Attorney, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts deemed juvenile life without parole sentences unconstitutional. Further, with regard to sentencing for juvenile homicide offenders, Chapter 279, Section 24 of the General Laws of Massachusetts provides that

In the case of a sentence of life imprisonment for murder in the first degree committed by a person on or after the person's fourteenth birthday and before the person's eighteenth birthday, the court shall fix a minimum term of not less than 20 years nor more than 30 years; provided, however, that in the case of a sentence of life imprisonment for murder in the first degree with extreme atrocity or cruelty committed by a person on or after the person's fourteenth birthday and before the person's eighteenth birthday, the court shall fix a minimum term of 30 years; and provided further, that in the case of a sentence of life imprisonment for murder in the first degree with deliberately premeditated malice aforethought committed by a person on or after the person's fourteenth birthday and before the person's eighteenth birthday, the court shall fix a minimum term of not less than 25 years nor more than 30 years. (emphasis added).

Therefore, Massachusetts treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee.

-CM

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/evidenceprof/2017/12/this-is-the-twenty-first-in-a-series-of-posts-on-the-51-to-life-projectin-tennessee-if-a-juvenile-is-convicted-of-first-deg.html

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