The existing Mass­a­chu­setts law for trying and pun­ishing juve­niles charged with murder, arguably the stiffest in the United States in terms of breadth and rigidity, was enacted amidst a cli­mate of fear fueled by wide-​​ranging media hype about juve­nile vio­lence. Not only was the 1996 statute crafted in the wake of a par­tic­u­larly heinous juve­nile murder case locally, but law­makers around the country responded to warn­ings about the increasing num­bers of the young and the ruthless.

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