Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

NOTICE: Inside Opinion has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Inside Opinion.
Visit the new section.

Tag: Barry Massey

June
27th

Death behind bars shouldn’t be automatic for juveniles

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this week on juvenile sentencing has been widely misconstrued.

The court did not forbid judges from sentencing the youngest murderers to life in prison without a chance of parole. It did forbid states from automatically requiring – through mandatory sentencing schemes – that killers be locked up until death for murders they committed as juveniles.

The ruling might affect six inmates from Pierce County, including two of the perpetrators of Tacoma’s infamous 1998 Trang Dai massacre.

The most dramatic Pierce County case – possibly the most dramatic case in the country – is that of Barry Massey, who was sent up for life after helping kill a marina operator in Steilacoom in 1987 at age 13. At the time, Massey was the youngest defendant in America to receive that penalty.

Life without parole is an important sentencing option. Many supporters of capital punishment fear that depraved killers will eventually be released if they are not executed. Some jurors will opt for life in prison instead of execution if they are assured that the killer will actually remain behind bars.

But the court majority Monday rightly struck down an Alabama law that ordered judges not to factor in circumstances or chances of rehabilitation in juvenile cases.

To state the obvious, adolescents are not adults. By definition, they lack maturity and have had less opportunity to rise above what may have been hellish childhoods. The moral compasses of many teenagers aren’t fully operational. As a rule, they are more emotional and impulsive, and much less likely to think through the consequences of their action.
Read more »

Dec.
22nd

Justice needs tailoring for Allen, Lain and Massey

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The old saw, “Do the crime, do the time,” suggests that sentencing is simple. In the case of three men now in the criminal justice system – Darcus Allen, Jerry Dean Lain and Barry Massey – it’s anything but.

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist opted last week not to seek the death penalty for Allen, who’s accused of serving as the getaway driver a year ago after Maurice Clemmons gunned down four Lakewood police officers at the Parkland coffee shop.

Instead, Lindquist decided to settle for life without parole, the only other

Read more »