CA Proposal to Allow Lifting Juvenile Life Without Parole Terms Advances


Last week, the California Assembly passed a bill by the slimmest of margins that would give juveniles serving life terms without the possibility of parole a shot at freedom, says the Associated Press. Nationwide, there are about 2,500 inmates who killed as juveniles who are serving life in prison without parole, including 309 in California. “Because their brain is still developing, they have the ability to rehabilitate,” said Michael Harris of the National Center for Youth Law. “They are more likely to rehabilitate than an adult.”

Some survivors of people killed by juveniles are pushing back and arguing that a life sentence is appropriate punishment for juveniles who commit heinous murders. “They say they deserve a second chance, but the victims don't get a second chance,” said Maggie Elvey, whose husband was murdered in 1993 by two teens during the robbery of his gun shop in Vista, Ca. The bill advancing in California allows lifers to seek a sentence of 25-years-to-life with a chance for parole after serving 15 years. Criminal defense lawyer Daniel Horowitz, whose wife was murdered in 2005 by a 16-year-old now serving life without parole, largely sides with Elvey. Releasing most of the thousands of juvenile lifers “would open the gates of hell,” Horowitz said. “We aren't trying to punish these young people,” he said. “We are trying to protect the public from this happening again.”

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