Back in Massachusetts, modifying juvenile sentences could burden a state budget already reeling from millions in unexpected costs generated by the crime lab scandal, juvenile lawyers acknowledge. Reviewing past cases involving juvenile killers could involve lengthy resentencing and parole hearings.
But keeping prisoners for decades into old age could cost states even more, said Sarah Bryer, director of the National Juvenile Justice Network.
“You are looking at 80 years in prison for teenagers,” Bryer said. “By the time they are in their 90s, you have enormous medical bills.”
The protection of a juvenile’s rights, not the cost, should be the priority for states, she said.
“If states want to take away someone’s liberty, expense shouldn’t be the most important question,” Bryer said.
The New England Center for Investigative Reporting is a nonprofit investigative newsroom based at Boston University.