District Attorney Kevin Hayden today said his office has identified approximately 70 inmates who will eventually become eligible for parole as a result of today’s state Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling regarding persons convicted for first-degree murder committed when they were 20 years old or younger.
The SJC’s Mattis and Robinson decisions deemed unconstitutional the mandatory sentences of life in prison without possibility of parole for individuals convicted of first-degree murder committed when aged 20 years or younger, retroactive to all cases. With the ruling, any imprisoned person who meets that criteria will become eligible for parole in accordance with state law. The ruling does not change the status for inmates convicted of first-degree murder committed when 21 or older.
Hayden emphasized that the ruling does not automatically grant parole to applicable inmates. Rather, it makes them eligible for parole in accordance with the state Parole Board’s hearing and review standards.
Hayden encouraged survivors of applicable homicide cases to visit the SCDAO website where a form is available referencing services provided by the office. The office’s victim witness advocates are knowledgeable about the decision and stand ready to assist survivors, Hayden said.
“We know this decision will generate questions among the survivors of homicide victims of both the immediate and distant past, and we want to make sure that those survivors get accurate information about the ruling. Our victim witness advocates will help these families and loved ones understand how the SJC decision affects them,” Hayden said.
His office is reaching out to survivors with current contact information, Hayden said. But contact information for many older cases is no longer accurate, he said.
“I’m urging anyone impacted by this decision to contact us so we can provide the information necessary to understand what this ruling does and does not do,” Hayden said.
All charged individuals are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.