Mass D.A. asks for stricter sentencing on juvenile murders - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Mass D.A. asks for stricter sentencing on juvenile murders

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Colleen Ritzer, 24, was found stabbed to death last October at Danvers High School where she worked as an algebra teacher.

Her killer, police said, was her student, Philip Chism, 14.

Chism pleaded not guilty and was charged as a youthful offender.

If convicted of first-degree murder, he will be sentenced to life behind bars with a chance of parole 15 years down the road.

But the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association wants more years added on, and not just in Chism's case.

The association's president, Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, has written a letter to state lawmakers asking for juveniles who commit murder to spend 35 years behind bars.

In the letter he writes, "This decision is particularly burdensome to the families of the victims of juvenile murderers, as they are now subjected to the possibility that their loved ones' killers will be released."

Word of Blodgett's request is also reaching Western Mass residents.

Beth Morin, of Springfield, said sentencing of juveniles in these situations should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
"I think it's more like depending on their age and the severity of the crime. You know, how the situation fell into place," said Morin. 

CBS 3 viewers also reached out via our Facebook page.

Tina wrote, "I love my kids, but I expect them to take punishment when they do wrong. You'd be raising them wrong if you tried to get them off for murder!"

And Dan said, "Perhaps not all the focus should be on mandatory sentences and serving the time for the crime, but rather on rehabilitating and trying to prevent them from bouncing right back in to the prison system."

The Senate president and the House speaker have said they will take up this recommendation early next session.

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