• Families of murder victims fighting bills that eliminate life no parole sentences

    By: Bob Ward

    Updated:

    BOSTON - Families of murder victims are not stopping their fight. Instead, they're battling two bills that would eliminate the state's harshest penalty for the state's worst crimes. 

    Massachusetts has already gotten rid of the death penalty. Now, one state representative is looking to reevaluate the state’s highest penalty: life without parole. 

    State Rep Jay Livingstone is sponsoring the House bill.

    "I think it's an important discussion to continue to have," Rep. Livingstone said. "A quarter of our population in prison is on a life sentence, about half that is on a life, no parole, sentence. And we should evaluate."

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    At Livingstone's office, no one would meet with Karren Fleet as she tried to deliver her signatures.

    But on the Senate site, it was different at the office of Sen. Joe Boncore.

    An aide met privately with Fleet, and the office issued a statement that suggested a change of heart: 

    Victims and families should not be forced to continuously endure the emotional hardships of a loved one that has been taken from them. I met with the families of victims who have helped reshape my position on this issue.

    Earlier Wednesday, Governor Charlie Baker came out opposed to the bills.

    "My view, with respect to adults, life without parole for certain crimes is the appropriate sentence," Governor Baker said. "I'd be skeptical about taking that away as a tool that's available in the courts."

    Fleet told Boston 25 News that she's encouraged by what happened Wednesday, but she won't give up fighting against the bills until they really are dead.

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