Joe Donovan, convicted of murder at age 17, is the first Massachusetts prisoner to go before a parole board since the state’s highest court ruled against automatic life sentences for juveniles.
Nearly 50 percent of former inmates return to prison in massachusetts. The responsibility to lower that recidivism rate often lies in the hands of parole officers — but some say POs are too quick to use their powers of arrest. One of the state’s eight parole offices is located in Springfield, a medium-sized city with a record high murder rate. WFCR’s Francesca Rheannon spent time there with one parole officer.