On Monday night the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on SB 790 to determine an appropriate sentence for juveniles convicted of first-degree murder. The bill is a response to a Supreme Court ruling in Miller v Alabama that prevents the mandatory sentencing of juveniles to life without parole (LWOP). Because Missouri only allows a LWOP sentence, the state must come up with an alternative sentence. Sponsored by Senator Bob Dixon, (R-Springfield), SB 790 sets up a tiered system that juveniles under 16 would serve 35 years before being eligible for parole. Juveniles 16 or 17 years of age must serve 50 years before being paroled.
Supporters of the bill cited that many of these individuals committed heinous crimes and needed longer sentences. Opponents of the bill, including the MCC, testified that the Miller decision required that youth be given a meaningful opportunity for release because they are less culpable than adults. Opponents noted that SB 790 could still be unconstitutional under Miller. The committee took no action on the bill.
Posted: February 28, 2014