Support Joe Donovan


In March, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Jackson v. Hobbs. This case centers on whether a life sentence for a juvenile, with no possibility of parole, is constitutional. Like Joe Donovan’s case, the plaintiff in the supreme court case was convicted of felony murder (at the age of 14) even though he did not actually commit murder.

Because Governor Patrick has denied Joe Donovan’s request for commutation, the Jackson v. Hobbs case now represents the best short-term opportunity for Joe to win a chance at freedom.

For more information on the case, please visit:

As of this update in April 2012, Joe has served 19 and a half years in prison for felony murder, even though Yngve Raustein was killed by another man who has been set free. 

Joe Donovan had turned 17 years of age three weeks before Yngve’s horrific murder.

Joe’s family, his friends and supporters across the world remain strong in their belief that Joe deserves a second chance.

More than 1,200 people have signed a petition calling for Joe’s release because they recognize the dramatic unfairness of his sentence when compared to that of the person who murdered Yngve Raustein.

Even Yngve’s mother and brother believe Joe deserves a second chance.

Joe deserves a second chance.

In 1992, fifteen-year-old Shon McHugh murdered Yngve Raustein, a 21-year-old exchange student from Norway attending MIT.

Joseph Donovan, then 17, and another young man accompanied McHugh that night. Joe was charged with “felony murder,” a legal theory which holds an “accomplice” accountable for the acts of another.

Even though he did not murder the MIT student and was unarmed during the confrontation, Joe was tried as an adult, convicted and sentenced to a life sentence behind bars.

Tried as a juvenile, McHugh served less than 11 years for the murder he committed.

This site is dedicated to supporting Joe and his family. Joe’s family and friends ask you to support his plea for a review of his case by the authorities. There is ample justification for a full commutation of his sentence and release from prison.

Remembering Yngve Raustein

We must never forget that Yngve Raustein and his family were the ultimate victims in this terrible saga. By all accounts, Ynvge Raustein was a brilliant, quite studious man whose bright future was brutally taken from him by Shon McHugh. The heinous, senseless murder created a lifetime of sorrow for Yngve’s parents and brother.

Yngve Raustein had an ambitious plan for his life. He wanted to explore space, to see and learn things that no man has seen before. While he did not achieve that dream in life, his ambitions live on through the MIT memorial scholarship that is awarded each year to an Aeronautics and Astronautics student who shows high achievement and personal improvement – qualities that Yngve displayed throughout his life.

If there is anything to be learned from this tragedy, it is the inspiration found in the kindness and dignity of the Raustein family. Their ability to put aside their grief and pain in favor of compassion for Joseph Donovan is nothing short of remarkable. The Donovan family can never truly express its gratitude for the kindness and consideration shown by the Rausteins.