This legislation aims to address the long sentences of juveniles who are charged as adults. As the U.S. Supreme Court has noted, adolescence is marked by “transient rashness, proclivity for risk, and inability to assess consequences.” Yet many who commit their crimes as children are viewed as incapable of rehabilitation, and incarcerated long into their adulthood. Under the proposed legislation, juveniles who are sentenced as adults would automatically come before the parole board after fifteen years, regardless of the length of their sentence, giving these young adults the chance to prove their fitness to return to society. Click here for a fact sheet on this issue put together by the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth.
In June, the Senate passed S 237 and referred the bill to House Judiciary. Despite intensive lobbying, the House took no action on the bill, which will be reintroduced next year.