A place for survivors to share their stories & bring awareness to legislation that would impact us as victims.
Most everyone has lost someone they loved in life, and we cannot compare or judge anyone’s grief as better, worse, easier or harder. Loss is loss – it is a terrible, deep pain that never truly goes away. But murder is an especially horrific loss that comes with devastating aftermath. Someone consciously chose to take the life of your loved one; there is trauma, hurt, anger, blame, guilt, resentment and even shame. I have often wondered if many of us ever really have the chance to grieve, we spend so much time trying to accept that it even happened, reliving it, trying to reconcile a new reality. The memory of your loved one often feels so tied to the way they died, and there is always, always the before and the after.
The goal of HAVEN 23 is to bring together victims, the survivors of homicide, and share our stories with the world. For some it took many years to do so, and for most it is still difficult. We will be sharing the losses of our loved ones, the letters we have written to legislators, and the battles we have fought over the years and continue to fight in surviving and moving forward. Eventually, I hope we might grow to be a resource and safe place for victims to connect, share their stories and heal.
I hope in writing these letters, that it also brings some therapy to the victims as it has to myself. Our stories need to be heard.
For the second time in 3 years, there are legislators pushing the bill "An Act to Reduce Mass Incarceration" (currently MA House Bill 1797, previously Bill H3358). This bill would effectively eliminate the Life Without Parole sentence, a sentence reserved mostly for those convicted of first-degree murder and instead allow inmates parole hearings after 25 years. It would also be retroactive, meaning those currently serving LWOP would be eligible for parole hearings after serving 25 years.
The impact of these bills would be far-reaching, and aside from deeply impacting the families of victims, we believe they could set a dangerous precedent for the future. These bills are a part of a larger movement towards criminal justice reform and "restorative justice".
The main proponent of these bills is State Rep Jay Livingstone, who is co-sponsoring this latest bill with State Rep Liz Miranda.
As of September 2021, there were 1011 inmates serving the LWOP sentence in MA, 1005 of those serving for first degree murder.
In Mass, first degree murder is defined as “murder committed with deliberately malice aforethought, or with extreme atrocity or cruelty, or in the commission of a crime punishable with death or imprisonment for life”.
Massachusetts banned the death penalty in 1984.
This legislation, if passed, would be the first of its kind in all 50 states, although some like California have similar movements.
Of the 1011 inmates currently serving LWOP in Mass:
987 are male, 24 female.
411 are white, 358 black, 189 Hispanic, 28 Asian, 13 American Indian/Native American, 12 Other.
32 are 20-29 years old, 175 30-39 years old, 252 40-49 years old, 271 50-59 years old, 281 60 or older.
The MA DOC (Department of Correction) will not release records with specific details about the convictions (i.e. # of gun-related deaths etc).
The Boston Herald was issued a 4 page denial letter when requesting these records in October 2021.
*The above stats are accurate to the best of our knowledge, and due to difficult access to records could change at any time.
We, the victims, need your help. Please email us today, call your state reps, spread the word and start the conversations around this. The progressive movement for "restorative justice" is not going away, but as a society we need to stand up for our moral standards and find a better way.
If you're a victim/survivor of homicide and would like to share your story or a letter, please email us at email@example.com. We respect those who wish to share anonymously.
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