Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday vetoed a bill abolishing life sentences without parole for juveniles that he said would upend the parole system by allowing juveniles who were convicted as adults to appeal for release after serving 20 years, cause additional trauma to victims’ families and potentially lead to the release of violent offenders who should remain behind bars, reports the Washington Post. Legislation advocates argue that the bill would help bring fairness to the criminal justice system.
“I am also a firm believer in second chances and understand that individuals who commit serious crimes, especially as juveniles, are capable of rehabilitation,” Hogan said in a veto letter to Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) and House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County). “Senate Bill 494, however, pertains to juveniles who have committed crimes so heinous that they are automatically charged as adults. . . . These are serious crimes that require the most serious of consequences, which is why a judge or jury sentences the individual to a lengthy determinate sentence, life imprisonment, or life imprisonment without parole.”