Letters

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Taking a hard line with juveniles does not mean a DA is taking the low road

In the Aug. 11 editorial “For DAs in parole cases, hard line isn’t always best,” the Globe implied that when district attorneys oppose parole for a juvenile murderer, they are somehow taking the low road. Speaking for the victims and their families, as is my duty, that implication is wrong.

District attorneys understand that juveniles are different. Our diversion program offers first-time, nonviolent juvenile and youthful offenders a court alternative. The guiding principle of this successful program is that kids make mistakes. The program gives them a chance to learn from these mistakes without giving them a court record.

First-degree murder is different. It is permanent and traumatizes the families of victims forever. First-degree murder is a heinous act that violates our social contract in a fundamental way. The action of intentionally or cruelly taking another person’s life should permanently deprive a person of his or her right to liberty.

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First-degree murder also inflicts harm on the community. The idea that a person living among us and attending school with our children has committed such an act shakes our sense of safety and security to its core.

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So when district attorneys support or oppose parole, they are neither taking the high road nor the low road. They have considered the facts, have taken the time to talk with the family of the victim, have reviewed the court and prison records of the murderer, and have considered how the murderer’s release could affect the community.

In short, they are doing their job.

Jonathan W. Blodgett

Essex district attorney

Salem