Could Supreme Court’s Life-Without-Parole Ruling Help MA Inmate, Now 37?


“It was an unfair punishment,” says Massachusetts Judge Richard Barton of the life-without-parole sentence for Joseph Donovan, then 17, for punching a man who later was killed by a boy, 15, who served only 10 years. Donovan, 37, tells CBS News, “When you’re sentenced to a natural life sentence you’re considered to be a throw-away person,” says Donovan.

Under the recent Supreme Court decision that found mandatory sentences of life without parole unconstitutional for defendants under 18 years of age. In light of this ruling, Donovan’s attorney, Ingrid Martin, is asking for a review of his sentence. “The Supreme Court is catching up with modern understanding about juvenile culpability and their ability to be reformed,” says Martin. Inside prison, Donovan has educated himself, and he is thoughtful and articulate when speaking about the system that tried and sentenced him as an adult, as well as the barriers to freedom he still faces.

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