Boston Magazine | Steve Annear | June 5, 2014
The Massachusetts Parole Board announced Thursday that Frederick Christian, who was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole as a juvenile, is eligible for release.
Christian, who was convicted in 1998 for his role in the murder of two men during an armed robbery in Brockton, is the first inmate scheduled to be released from the custody of the Department of Corrections as a result of recent decisions from both the Supreme Court and the state Supreme Court.
“After careful consideration of all relevant facts, including the nature of the underlying offense, the age of the inmate at the time of the crime, criminal record, institutional record, the inmate’s testimony at the hearing, and the views of the public as expressed at the hearing or in writing, we conclude by unanimous vote that the inmate is a suitable candidate for parole,” according to parole officials’ findings.
In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional for defendants to spend life in jail without parole for crimes they committed when they were under 18, including felony murder charges. Not long after, the Massachusetts Supreme Court issued a similar finding, falling in line with the national standards.
There are 65 inmates eligible for parole under the court’s recent ruling. So far two inmates, including Christian, have sat before the parole board and asked to be released. Christian is the first to have that plea granted.
The parole board said in their decision that Christian will have to complete an eight-week “motivational enhancement program,” followed by one year in lower security at the Department of Corrections, during which time he must “maintain good conduct and comply with all DOC expectations for programs, activities, and employment.” He will also have to complete three months in a residential treatment program, stay away from drugs and alcohol, and have no contact with the victims’ families, according to details of his release.
The board said their decision to allow for Christian’s parole was based on the fact that he doesn’t have a history of committing violent acts, and his “path to rehabilitation” is less complicated than most inmates convicted of murder.
Christian was in the car at the time the two victims were shot and killed in 1994, but he did not pull the trigger, and said he was unaware that the assailant he was with was going to carry out the crime.
“He has 15 years of pro-social conduct, cooperative behavior, and productive activity,” the board wrote. “Through this commitment and effort, Christian rehabilitated himself.”