Joyce Crosby, Director
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, adult inmates sentenced to second degree life in prison are eligible for parole after they have served 15 years of their sentence. Such inmates are granted an initial hearing in front of the full panel of the Massachusetts Parole Board. Pursuant to M.G.L. c. 127 § 130 parole decisions must be made with a reasonable probability that the inmate will not re-offend and the release is compatible with the welfare of society. If the Parole Board denies parole after the initial hearing, the inmate will be provided with a subsequent review hearing of a maximum of five years or earlier, at the discretion of the Parole Board.
The Life Sentence Unit is responsible for preparing all inmates with such sentences for their parole hearings. This includes gathering case materials and interviewing the inmate. This unit is responsible for maintaining the inmate’s file with documents relative to criminal history, institutional history, and trial testimony. The LSU coordinates with affiliate agencies such as the District Attorney’s Office and the Department of Corrections in order to obtain such materials.
Conducting an interview for a crime as serious as murder must be thorough and detailed. Following the interview, staff submit a written summary to Board Members which the Board utilizes for hearings. Often, compiling a summary requires additional investigating as all cases are 15 years or older.
The LSU is responsible for coordinating Life Sentence Hearings that occur at Central Office. Three consecutive hearings are held one day per week. The LSU is responsible for notification of scheduling hearings to any legal representation afforded by the inmate, the District Attorney’s Office, and the Chief of Police where the initial crime occurred. Life Sentence Hearings are open to the public. Up to five supporters are allowed to testify on behalf of the inmate. Up to five people in opposition are permitted to testify. This coordination is done in conjunction with the Victim Services Unit, Field Services, and the Department of Correction Prisoner Transport Division.