(NECN: Jackie Bruno) - Two convicted murderers from Massachusetts sentenced to life without parole as juvenile will have their first parole hearings Thursday.
The hearings come in the wake of the state Supreme Court decision that struck down mandatory life sentencing for offenders under 18.
Thirty-eight-year-old Joseph Donovan could get parole more than two decades after he was originally convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life without parole.
But he didn't actually kill anyone. When he was 17 years old, he robbed two MIT students with friends and while he admitted to punching the victim, his friend, 15-year-old Shon McHugh stabbed the victim. McHugh was tried as a juvenile, convicted, but released after 11 years.
For the past five years, his jailhouse record has been clean. He got his GED and has been tutoring inmates, but early on, he had a history of violence, something that could influence those deciding his fate.
Donovan is just one of 65 inmates in Massachusetts who could eventually get parole. It’s a reality that's causing controversy, especially for some of the families of victims.
"I know in the past, I've been bad and I've caused a lot of pain. It is my earnest hope that this board can see that I've grown out of the ignorance of my youth into a God-full man who is not a danger to society, but hopefully one day will be a benefit to it," Donovan pleaded.
Bruce Tarr (R) Senate Minority Leader, Gloucester said, “They thought that when you committed first degree murder it mean you would have an appropriate sanction.”
Judge Martha Grace, retired chief justice of Massachusetts said, “Warehousing young people is not necessarily the way to go. That's not going to bring back their loved one taken from them.”
The second man up for his parole hearing is Frederick Christian, who is 37 now. He was convicted at age 17 when he watched his friends gun down two men in Brockton. He's had a clean record for the two decades he's been in jail.
The hearings began at 10 a.m.