Hundreds gather on Beacon Hill to voice opinions on parole eligibility bill

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (WWLP) – Senate Bill 8-26 could make prisoners serving life-without-parole eligible for release after 25 years, including those convicted of first-degree murder.

Supporters and opponents of the bill gathered at the State House on Tuesday to testify in front of the joint committee on the judiciary. Some people shared personal stories about their incarcerated family members, while others talked about those who died at the hands of violent criminal behavior.

Right now, approximately one and eight people in the Massachusetts prison system is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Supporters of the bill believe that is preventing people from being rehabilitated and really reintegrated back into society.

“Today, we’re focused on the opportunity to give, to show that folks can change and that people have a great capacity to change,” Rachel Carey with the Emancipation Initiative said.

But opponents say the bill would allow violent criminals to be released back into society. The legislation sparked this protest in Orange. An elderly couple was murdered in that community during a violent home invasion back in 2016.

Their killers were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. Northampton State Senator Jo Comerford is the co-sponsor of the bill.

Opponents are urging her to withdraw her support, while supporters are hoping to see the legislation go up for a full vote in the house.

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