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    Letters | RETHINKING HARSH SENTENCES FOR JUVENILE OFFENDERS

    For my son, 18 years is too many

    Joseph Donovan Jr. was sentenced to life for first degree felony murder in the 1992 slaying of a student from Norway.
    Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff/file
    Joseph Donovan Jr. was sentenced to life for first degree felony murder in the 1992 slaying of a student from Norway.

    THE GLOBE’S Christmas Day editorial (“If sentences vary too widely, courts should make corrections’’) meant a great deal to my family. My son, Joseph Donovan Jr., is serving life without the possibility of parole for a crime that took place when he was a teen. Joey was convicted of murder, though he did not kill Yngve Raustein. By every account, he had no intention of participating in a murder. But he was convicted of armed robbery under the state’s felony murder law, which means he is ineligible for parole.

    Joey’s actions were immature, stupid, and regrettable. But Shon McHugh’s desire to kill created a lifetime of sorrow for Yngve’s family as well as ours. Yngve was a brilliant, studious young man whose bright future was brutally taken from him. And my son, who had never been incarcerated before, became a lifer. What should have been his senior year of high school became his freshman year in the state’s most notorious prison, MCI Cedar Junction.

    Joey is much different today than when he was a stupid boy who threw a punch. Despite some very rough times, he managed to educate himself and keep his humanity. I’m happy to say that Joey has grown into a man I’m proud of and who is supported by thousands of people across the world. Nineteen years after the murder, Joey counts Yngve’s mother, Yngve’s brother, and the judge who presided over his trial among them. We can now add the Globe to the list. Thank you.

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    Joseph Donovan Sr.

    Charlestown