Thursday, June 4, 2009

Senate Bill to Eliminate LWOP for Juveniles Passes Committee Hearing

Since the death penalty was abolished for juveniles in Roper v. Simmons, public debate has shifted to the issue of life without the possibility of parole for juveniles. The most recent news on this come from the California Senate Committee, which, according to the Chron, approved Senator Yee's bill to eliminate LWOP for juveniles and substitute it for sentences of 25 years to life.

The Chron reports:

The bill would overturn a component of Proposition 115, a tough-on-crime ballot initiative passed by voters in 1990.
The legislation pits law enforcement groups, which argue that there are teens who commit such horrendous crimes that they should spend the rest of their lives in prison, against some child psychiatrists and religious groups, which argue that teens' brains are still developing and even those who kill should be given a chance at redemption. Parole would be granted only to inmates who convinced both the state's parole board and governor that they deserve to be released.

Those interested in more information about the special problems concerning juveniles on LWOP might find interest in a PBS debate on the matter, or in the Frontline documentary When Kids Get Life.

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