Thursday, July 19, 2012

Iowa governor commutes sentences of juvenile lifers

As state lawmakers ponder the application of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Miller v. Alabama, banning mandatory life in prison for juvenile killers, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has taken action.

He commuted 38 life sentences from life without the possibility of parole to life sentences that allow parole only after 60 years.  According to the Associated Press, Branstad plan is to keep killers who committed their crimes as juveniles in prison and forestall their resentencings.

Branstad told the AP he wants to protect the victims of violent crime.

Last week, an Iowa court vacated the sentences of two Iowa inmates who were teenagers when they were involved in murders. It wasn't immediately clear how Branstad's action would affect the cases.

Last week the Pennsylvania legislature conducted a hearing to examine the options for juvenile lifers.  Pennsylvania has approximately 480 inmates serving life for murders committed as juveniles, by far more than any other state.

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