Another bill signed by Gov. Nixon this week was a juvenile sentencing bill that brought Missouri into compliance with several recent Supreme Court rulings. Under SB 590, sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon (R-Springfield), the mandatory life without parole sentence (LWOP) for juveniles who commit first degree murder was eliminated from Missouri law. Instead, juveniles below the age of 18 could be sentenced to LWOP, life with parole or a sentence of at least 30-40 years. For a youth to receive a sentence of LWOP certain criteria must be met and the jury must unanimously support that option. Juveniles who were previously sentenced to LWOP will have the opportunity for parole after 25 years.
For several years the MCC advocated for a sentencing bill that reflected the immaturity of youth as well as their potential to change. The final version of SB 590 represents a compromise between various stakeholders involved in the issue.