SPRINGFEILD, Mass. (WGGB) –It’s in line with the nation’s highest court; Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court ruled Tuesday that it was unconstitutional for juvenile offenders to get life in prison without the possibility of parole. “Working in this community, unfortunately, a lot of the youth I work with have been in jail, or have been involved in the criminal justice system. And when given the opportunity to change and improve, they do,” said Dr. Matthew Sadof
The SJC ruled that it’s an unconstitutionally disproportionate punishment viewed in the unique characteristics of juvenile offenders. Dr. Matthew Sadof, pediatrician at Baystate Medical Center’s Children’s Hospital breaks down some of those traits. “Adolescents are considered adults, but they’re not. Their brains are still developing. An adolescent’s ability to fully understand the long term consequences is still under development,” he stated.
The ruling actually states that a judge cannot make the decision on whether or not a juvenile is beyond rehabilitation.
“I think that it’s important that we invest our time and energy supporting youth and families. A lot of emerging evidence shows that toxic stress in young children and young families actually adversely affects the way a child’s brain is formed added Dr. Sadof.
Dr. Sadof believes that time should be served for juvenile crimes.
“If someone commits murder, they should be punished. But I’m not saying it should be a mandatory life sentence,” Dr. Sadof said.
Citing that through his own work, there is always the opportunity to change for the better.
The 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision ruled that life without parole for juveniles violates the 8th Amendment of “Cruel and Unusual” punishment.