MO Supreme Court Rules on Juvenile Sentencing

This week the Missouri Supreme Court issued a ruling regarding juveniles who are currently serving mandatory life without parole sentences. The Court ruled that those juveniles (about 80 inmates in Missouri) would be eligible for parole after serving 25 years imprisonment on his/her sentence of life without parole. The ruling was in response to two U.S. Supreme Court rulings: 1) Miller v Alabama (2012) that prohibited mandatory life without parole (LWOP) for juvenile offenders and 2) Montgomery v Louisiana (2016) that applied Miller retroactively to past cases, for which all appeals were exhausted.

After the Miller decision the MO Supreme Court granted re-sentencing hearings to several offenders who had received a LWOP sentence as a juvenile. The MCC had filed an amicus brief with the court supporting judicial relief in these cases. 

In the ruling this week, the Missouri Supreme Court left open to the General Assembly other legislative ways to bring Missouri into conformity with Miller and Montgomery. The General Assembly is currently considering two approaches to the sentencing of juveniles who commit first degree murder:  HB 1995, sponsored by Rep. Robert Cornejo (R-St. Peter) and SB 590, sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon (R-Springfield). The MCC supports HB 1995 as it is less punitive and more in-line with the Supreme Court rulings. Both bills are awaiting debate in their respective chambers.  

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