SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

May 16, 2014

Our view: Families deserve credit for pushing parole bill

It’s a shame that the family and friends of Beth Brodie, the popular Groveland teenager whose life was snuffed out by a 16-year-old killer who was rightfully sentenced to a life term with no hope of parole 22 years ago, has to spend even a second of their time worrying about their loved one’s murderer.

Yet, that’s the case, thanks to last Christmas Eve’s wrongheaded ruling by the state’s Supreme Judicial Court, which found that juveniles like Richard Baldwin and others of his ilk were simply too young to be handed such a harsh term and are now eligible for parole.

To that end, no amount of credit can be too much to extend to people like Brodie’s brother, Sean Aylward, who has been unflagging in his support for important legislation that would keep juvenile killers like Baldwin behind bars. The Legislature’s Judiciary Committee is considering nearly a dozen bills on the issue, including one filed by state Sens. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, and Barry Finegold, D-Andover, that would keep juvenile killers in prison for at least 35 years. Democratic state Rep. John Keenan of Salem has filed similar legislation in the House.

We can only hope the Legislature takes action before the current session ends July 31.

The SJC’s ruling was retroactive and opened the door for 63 inmates convicted as juveniles to become parole-eligible after serving 15 to 25 years — the same as those convicted of second-degree murder. In addition to the Brodie case, the killers who have newfound parole eligibility include Alfred Brown of Topsfield, who was 15 in 1978 when he shot and killed his parents and sister after his mother asked to see his report card; John Jones, who was 17 when he killed Donald Pinkham in Gloucester in October 1982; and Jamie Fuller, who was 16 in 1991 when he lured his girlfriend, 14-year-old Amy Carnevale, to the rear of the Memorial Middle School in Beverly, where he stabbed her, slashed her throat and stomped on her head.

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