Pennsylvania is joining some other states in considering whether there are ways to treat the worst juvenile offenders rather than locking them up in adult prisons for life, the Associated Press reports. State Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Stewart Greenleaf held a hearing yesterday on why Pennsylvania, the sixth-most populous state, leads the nation in the number of juveniles sent to prison for life. “We’re not asking that killers be set free,” Robert Schwartz of the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia told AP. “We’re asking that every juvenile lifer be given a second chance.”
Colorado has created a clemency board to hear cases of juveniles convicted as adults. Other states have considered raising the age teenagers are prosecuted as adults in light of research that indicates teens can’t control their impulses. Connecticut will raise its age from 16 to 18 in 2010. Lawmakers in Illinois, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York and North Carolina debated legislation to raise their ages in the past two years, but the measures all failed. Pennsylvania has 350 inmates who entered prison under the age of 17.