Wednesday, October 3, 2012

California addresses juvenile lifers

California Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed a bill into law that could bring about the release of some criminals who were sentenced as juveniles to life in prison, reported The Associated Press.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles as unconstitutional "cruel and unusual" punishment. But the ruling didn't affect California's law because it already gives judges the discretion to impose a sentence of 25 years to life.

There are 309 inmates serving life-without-parole sentences in California for murders committed when they were younger than 18, second to only Pennsylvania.

California's SB9 would let the inmates ask judges to reconsider their sentences after they serve at least 15 years in prison, according to AP.

Judges could then reduce the no-parole sentence to 25 years to life if the inmate shows remorse and is taking steps toward rehabilitation.

California is one of 39 states that allow judges to sentence minors to die in prison. More than 2,570 people convicted as juveniles are serving life sentences without the possibility of parole in the U.S., according to the Youth Justice Coalition, a California-based group concerned with the treatment of juvenile offenders.

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