Wednesday, 13 December, 2017

DC sees no impact from high court's life-without-parole case

Lee Boyd Malvo enters a courtroom in the Spotsylvania Va. Circuit Court. Malvo plead guilty and was sentenced to two life sentences for the murder of Kenneth Vermont law already prohibits juvenile life without parole
Carol Daniels | 01 August, 2017, 23:00

In light of Supreme Court decisions banning life without parole for juvenile offenders, dozens of Colorado prisoners who committed crimes as minors could be eligible for release, but only one has been freed.

Three inmates are now serving life without parole for homicides they committed as juveniles.

Five years ago, the Supreme Court barred mandatory life-without-parole sentences for anyone younger than 18 convicted of murder.

Devonere Simmonds of Columbus is serving a life sentence without parole for a July 2013 crime spree that left two people dead, when Simmonds was 17.

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Offenders given true-life sentences for crimes committed as juveniles have gained a glimmer of hope they might someday be released.

The court found that the harshest punishments levied against adult criminals may be unconstitutionally cruel and unusual for juveniles due to their lack of development and potential for change. An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is pending. Lawmakers mandated a minimum sentence of at least 25 years for anyone convicted of first-degree murder for an offense committed as a juvenile.

The AP spent months reviewing how counties and states are wrestling with re-examining juvenile life without parole. The Supreme Court has yet to rule on whether lengthy alternative sentences to life without parole are constitutional, Marsha Levick of the national Juvenile Law Center said, but she believes those cases eventually will be taken up. No so-called juvenile lifers have been released on parole. They generally aren't eligible for that until they've served 40 years. The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth says more than 100 former teen offenders are immediately affected. The change covers those who've served 20 years for their crimes, but weren't convicted of more that one homicide.

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