Bill would allow for the possibility for parole for juveniles serving life

“My name is Mario Monteiro. I’m a juvenile lifer serving a mandatory consecutive double life sentence.”

Those words were read to the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday by 17 year old Anastasia Pattison, Monteiro’s cousin. Pattison continued:

“Over 17 and a half years ago, at the age of 17, I made a regrettable decision that resulted in the death of Rom Peov. Although it was not my intent to cause a loss of life, nor could my 17 year old self comprehend the ramifications of my decisions, I however take full responsibility for my actions and will forever be remorseful and sorry. The reality is that there is no amount of apology or deeds that can atone for my actions.”

Pattison choked back tears as she read about the efforts her cousin has made in prison to educate and rehabilitate himself. Monteiro wants to use his life story as a platform to “discourage other 16 and 17 year old girls and boys from making the same bad choices I’ve made.”

House Bill 5333, introduced by Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell(Democrat, District 5, Providence) seeks to provide the opportunity for parole to juveniles sentenced to life in prison. The act “would provide that prisoners who committed offenses prior to age 18 and were sentenced as adults would be eligible for parole after completing 15 years of their sentence. This act would not lengthen their parole eligibility should the prisoner be eligible for parole earlier than 15 years.”

Over thirty people crowded the hearing room to support the bill.

“I’ve heard from many juvenile persons who are now incarcerated,” said Ranglin-Vassell. “I have read their stories… I believe people can change. People should be given the opportunity to prove to the rest of us… that they do possess the capacity to be compassionate and to be kind as they get older.”

The legislation is supported by Black and Pink Providence, “an open family of LGBTQ prisoners and ‘free world’ allies who support each other.” Several members of the organization read testimonies from juvenile lifers, attempting to demonstrate that the children we threw away as teenagers are not the adults we currently incarcerate….