Agreeing that youth should be treated differently than adults, the House Select Judiciary Committee this week passed HB 1995 by a vote of 7-2. Sponsored by Rep. Robert Cornejo (R-St. Peter) the bill repeals the mandatory life without parole (LWOP) sentences for juveniles convicted of first degree murder that was in Missouri statute. Those previously sentenced to LWOP would be given the opportunity to petition the court for review of their sentences. Moving forward, any youth convicted of first degree murder may be sentenced from 25 to 40 years or life imprisonment with parole. The court must evaluate certain factors when assessing punishment.
The bill addresses a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that banned mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles who commit murder. A recent decision this year made the 2012 ruling retroactive and allowed youth sentenced to LWOP to get their sentence reviewed. This ruling affects about 80 Missouri cases.
The MCC supports HB 1995 because we believe youth who commit crimes are not as mature as adults and they have the ability to be rehabilitated. HB 1995 now goes on the House Calendar for debate.