I know a lot of people won't consider this a victory, but I do. Sentencing youth to life sentences is not justice and it's about damn time that Massachusetts realize this. This is a victory for all of my colleagues and friends that work in juvenile justice and for all of us who care about the well-being of ALL teenagers. And it's especially a victory for Frederick Christian who was a minor who was present at a murder in a car nearby while it took place.
A Massachusetts man imprisoned since age 17 under a mandatory life sentencing law for young offenders has been recommended for parole after pleading for freedom last week, the parole board said Thursday.
In December, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that lifelong imprisonment for juveniles is "cruel and unusual punishment," saying scientific research showed that their brains were not fully developed.
No teenager should ever be tried as an adult. Period. And in fact, if you consider their brains aren't developed, as I've said before, the threshold for cases to be tried in the adult system should be older. (in fact, in Massachusetts, until recently, 17 year olds were considered adults in the court system).
The parole board said in their decision that Christian will have to complete an eight-week “motivational enhancement program,” followed by one year in lower security at the Department of Corrections, during which time he must “maintain good conduct and comply with all DOC expectations for programs, activities, and employment.” He will also have to complete three months in a residential treatment program, stay away from drugs and alcohol, and have no contact with the victims’ families, according to details of his release.
The board said their decision to allow for Christian’s parole was based on the fact that he doesn’t have a history of committing violent acts, and his “path to rehabilitation” is less complicated than most inmates convicted of murder.