NECIR: Mass unevenly applies mandatory life law for teen murderers

Massachusetts is one of the few states to sentence teens convicted of first-degree murder to prison for life without the possibility of parole, according to a recent New England Center for Investigative Reporting story.

The state has a mandatory life sentence law for juvenile murderers — a law most states like Texas consider so harsh that they refuse to hand it out or even keep it on their law books.

Massachusetts passed its law after Somerville teen Eddie O’Brien stabbed his best friend’s mother 97 times in 1995. The juvenile life law, which passed a year later, was meant to crack down on juvenile “super predators” like O’Brien.

NECIR-BU interns and staffers Sarah Favot, Kirsten Berg and Jenna Ebersole spent months reviewing juvenile justice cases across the state to find out how the law has been applied since it was enacted in 1996.

The results are definitely interesting. Read the full report on NECIR-BU’s site here.

You can also hear Maggie Mulvhill, co-director of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, discuss the story and the center’s findings on WBUR.

Congratulations to Maggie, Kirsten, Jenna and Sarah for the publication of their report.

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