Committee Hears Bill Regarding Long-term Sentences for Youth

This week the House Committee on Crime Prevention and Public Safety heard HB 1560 that would create a 50-year sentence as an alternative sentence to life without parole (LWOP) for juveniles convicted of first-degree murder.  Sponsored by Representative Stanley Cox (R-Sedalia), HB 1560 is a response to a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision (Miller v Alabama) that prohibits the mandatory sentencing of juveniles to life without parole in prison for murder.  Since Missouri law only allowed for LWOP in these juvenile murder cases, Missouri needs to change its law to bring it into compliance with the court decision.

In speaking against HB 1560, the MCC noted that a 50-year sentence was a virtual life sentence and was not a meaningful alternative to LWOP.  In Miller the court recognized that youth are not as culpable as adults and that, because youth have great potential to be rehabilitated, they should be given a meaningful opportunity for eventual release based upon their rehabilitation.

The committee took no action on the bill.
Posted: February 21, 2014

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