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    Convicted as teen, inmate shouldn’t have had to wait decades to be heard

    Joseph Donovan, 38, was sworn in during a hearing before the parole board Thursday.
    Wendy Maeda/Globe staff/Pool
    Joseph Donovan, 38, was sworn in during a hearing before the parole board Thursday.

    In the May 26 editorial “After 2 decades, teen offender deserves a chance for parole,” the Globe highlighted the case of Joseph Donovan, still imprisoned for his role in a 1992 crime. Donovan was just 17 when he senselessly punched Yngve Raustein; a 15-year old accomplice then stabbed and killed Raustein, who had fallen to the ground.

    Under a pair of misguided laws, Massachusetts had no choice but to sentence Donovan to a mandatory term of life without parole. Though 17, he was sentenced as if he were an adult. Though he did not kill Raustein, he was convicted of felony murder.

    As a result of rulings from the US Supreme Court and Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court, Donovan had the chance to express his remorse before a parole board (“Two life inmates plead for parole,” Metro, May 30). The board will judge the Joseph Donovan of 2014, not the reckless youth from 1992.

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    Like Donovan, I was 17 in 1992. He and I took different paths, but all of us who have left our teenage years behind can look back on the errors of our youth with some measure of regret. Donovan has been imprisoned for more than two decades. He deserves to have his voice heard. It is a shame he has had to wait this long.

    Josh Rovner

    State advocacy associate

    The Sentencing Project

    Washington