Notorious first-degree murderers — with legislators working for them — are pushing a Massachusetts bill that would abolish life-without-parole sentences, enraging families and friends who lost loved ones to killers.

Lifers led by Dirk Greineder, the Wellesley doctor who murdered his wife in 1999, promoted the concept. First-degree murderers would be retroactively eligible for parole hearings after 25 years under a bill introduced by state Rep. Jay Livingstone (D-Boston). Another bill by state Sen. William Brownsberger (D-Belmont) would make future first-degree murderers eligible for parole after 35 years — instead of the current mandatory life without the possibility of parole.

“It’s so, so sickening,” said Terry Titcomb of Charlestown, whose son was murdered 25 years ago. “You commit murder — you’re done. You don’t deserve a second chance at life. You don’t deserve to ever walk the streets again.”

Her grandson Aaron Titcomb was 18 months old in 1994 when his father, Albert, was shot in the back of the head by Shawn Fritz — who’s serving life for first-degree murder. Fritz killed Albert over a $50 debt.

The proposed bill is putting families like the Titcombs through the “torture” of reliving the tragic loss of life, Aaron Titcomb said.

“I didn’t get the chance to know my father,” he said, shedding tears. “I had no opportunity to make memories with him … learn about his best memories in life.”

The Lifers’ Group Inc. at MCI-Norfolk and bill supporters on Beacon Hill argue that inmates can reform after decades, and show they’re deserving of returning to society.

Members of the Lifers’ Group recently wrote a model bill with advocates outside the prison, submitting it to Massachusetts legislators who adopted language to abolish life-without-parole.

Greineder, the Lifers’ Group vice chairman, helped write the prototype legislation with Nat Harrison and Lloyd Fillion — who are working with the Criminal Justice Policy Coalition on this effort.

“Lifers’ Group Inc. believes that all people deserve a second chance,” reads the prison group’s annual report.

“We’re not arguing to open the gates for everybody after 25 years,” Fillion said. “Some people will never get out, but I’m confident some people don’t need to be there in prison. They’ve recognized they did something terribly wrong, and know they can do good.”

Livingstone filed the bill, “An Act to Reduce Mass Incarceration.” The parole board would only release first-degree murderers they are satisfied are not at risk of reoffending.

“Otherwise, they would continue to serve their sentence and would never be released,” Livingstone said. “This would just allow an opportunity for those people decades later who show they would be a positive in society.”

He also cited the high costs for incarcerating older inmates, which he said is about three times the annual $75,000 price-tag of a younger inmate — or around $225,000 per year.

“When these inmates have shown they’re not a public safety risk, spending tax dollars on them doesn’t make sense,” Livingstone said.

Brownsberger said his bill only applies to future murderers, because with a retroactive bill, “you’d be opening up a lot of things that have been settled.”

But Prisoners’ Legal Services in Boston has endorsed Livingstone’s retroactive legislation.

“We’ve gotten lots of calls from family members who have a little bit of hope,” executive director Elizabeth Matos said, “that their loved one might have a chance.”

But the Titcomb family and others who lost relatives to murderers say they’ll fight it on Beacon Hill. They’ve been collecting signatures for petitions against the bills.

“They want us as victims to swallow these bills,” Terry Titcomb said. “It ain’t ever gonna happen. No way.”

Aaron Titcomb said the lifers don’t deserve hope.

“We all know what hope can do for a person,” he said. “A little piece of hope can build, and that makes them happy. They’re smiling. When are we allowed to smile? We have no hope my father is going to walk through that door and give me a hug.”


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