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Case challenges young adult killer parole conditions – NBC10 Philadelphia

They were convicted of the same crime: the 2011 killing of a teen in Boston as part of a gangster feud. However, the trigger, Nyasani Watt, was only 17 at the time of the murder and will be able to fight for parole 15 years later.

Only eight months ago, Sheldon Mathis was ordered to spend the rest of his life in a tavern.

Recent US Supreme Court rulings and state law have restricted or prohibited the use of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for those who have committed crimes as juveniles due to potential changes.

Studies showing that the brain continues to develop after the age of 18 are now urging some states to consider whether to extend such protection to young adults like Matisse.

“People who say that 18-week and 6-week people are biologically different from 17- and 364-day people belong to the Flat Earth Society,” said Mattis lawyer Ruth Greenberg. It was. “Biologically and neuroscientifically, the 18-year-old bright line rule is not supported, and the scientific community is widely consensus,” she said.

Another case, Matisse’s case, involved a man convicted of being involved in the murder at the age of 19 and wanted to ban life imprisonment without parole for those aged 18, 19, and 20 at the time of the crime. I am. The two proceedings were recently sent to the Massachusetts Supreme Court, and eight years ago such a ruling on the boy was abolished.

In 2012, the US Supreme Court withdrew the automatic lifetime requirement without the possibility of parole for murderers under the age of 18. But this year, more conservative courts have facilitated the delivery of these penalties to boys, and minors cannot be rehabilitated.

Nevertheless, more than 20 states, including Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia have already banned minors from being behind the bar for life without the opportunity to be released on parole.

Studies showing that the adolescent brain is still developing cannot explain the differences between adolescents and the potential for rehabilitation, so punishing teens of the same severity as adults is cruel and unusual. I convinced the courts and lawmakers.

The defense lawyer states that the same rationale should apply to young adults. In the case of 19-year-old Jason Robinson, who said the authorities participated in the murder in Boston, lawyers show that young people are more risk-taking and more affected, almost 12 countries. One psychological study of people from is pointing out more companions than the elderly.

Earlier this year, the Washington State High Court abolished life imprisonment for murder between the ages of 18 and 20 without parole. Washington courts can sentence young adult criminals to life without the opportunity to be released, but only after they first consider whether their youth justify less punishment. is.

A new law in Washington, DC allows people under the age of 25 to apply for a new judgment 15 years later, said Josh Robner, who is working on the juvenile justice issue of the Sentence Project. .. And the bills introduced in Connecticut and Illinois would abolish life imprisonment without parole for those who committed crimes as young adults, Robner said.

Watt was ten days away from turning 18 when officials said Mattis handed him a gun and Watt fatally shot 16-year-old Jabon Blake in Boston’s Dorchester district. Last year, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ordered lower courts to collect more information on brain development so that they could decide whether to extend life imprisonment without parole to young adults.

Boston’s progressive Supreme Prosecutor, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins, agrees that changes are needed, though not as dramatic as the defense lawyer hopes. Nonetheless, Rollins took a rare step this year in a proceeding against Robinson to sign a brief calling for the termination of life imprisonment without parole for those who committed murder between the ages of 18 and 20.

In a court document, she found that the study pointed out by Defense was flawed, and that the brain’s continued development in early adulthood was “indisputable,” but “linked these anatomical changes to specific behaviors.” There is no direct evidence. “

Mr Rollins urged the Supreme Court to follow the state of Washington, saying that these young adults would need to undergo a special judgment hearing to consider young people before they could be punished. She said she should be ordered to die in prison only in “very terrible” situations if the judge determined they were “irreparably corrupt.”

“I’m no longer legally and morally wrong,” Rollins, the first colored woman to serve as a district attorney in Massachusetts, said in an interview.

“We are now working to ensure that overwhelmingly black and brown men are not disproportionately affected by the criminal legislation,” Rollins said. “We will do the right thing and at least give them more hope and opportunity …. I believe it could change in 10, 15, 20 or so years.”

It is unclear when the Massachusetts High Court will address this issue. However, loved ones can anger the families of victims who never get a chance and face fierce backlash from other prosecutors throughout the state.

Cape and Islands Chief Prosecutor Michael O’Keefe said he believes the matter should be left to lawmakers, not courts.

“We have taken steps to abolish life imprisonment without parole between the ages of 14 and 18, which must be stopped somewhere,” he said. “At some point, you have to be accountable for vicious criminal activity,” he said.

Rollins’ proposal could lead to new trials against dozens of young criminals across Massachusetts. More than 200 people were sentenced to life imprisonment without parole in Massachusetts prisons for being killed at the ages of 18, 19, and 20, according to data obtained by the state’s public defender, the Public Defender Commission. There is. If the court is on the side of the defense lawyer, those prisoners may one day have the opportunity to be released on parole.

“There’s a big uproar about these people going out, and maybe some of them deserve it,” said Robinson’s lawyer, Rosemary Scapiccio. “But that doesn’t mean the doors are open, which means they’re subject to parole, have to pass the seven members of the parole committee, and get a majority vote before they leave,” she said. Told.

Case challenges young adult killer parole conditions – NBC10 Philadelphia

Source link Case challenges young adult killer parole conditions – NBC10 Philadelphia

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