Connecticut Abolishes Juvenile Life-Without-Parole Sentences


Last week, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed SB 796, which abolished life-without-parole sentences for all children.

The new law requires judges to consider both the hallmark features of adolescence as well as the scientific differences between child and adult offenders whenever children are sentenced in adult court for serious crimes.  Furthermore, the law establishes special parole eligibility for children, ensuring review after serving no more than 30 years, and specifying youth-related factors for the parole board to consider.

The bill provides earlier parole eligibility for more than 200 individuals who are currently serving sentences for offenses committed while they were children.

Connecticut joins a growing number of states that have abolished the practice of sentencing children to die in prison after the Supreme Court banned mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juvenile offenders in Miller v. Alabama. Hawaii, Delaware, Nevada, Vermont, Wyoming, and Texas also have eliminated death-in-prison sentences for children in recent years.