The Connecticut House of Representatives passed legislation on Tuesday that effectively abolishes juvenile life without parole.
For people serving prison sentences for crimes committed when they were 14 to 17 years old, the bill allows for a parole hearing after 12 years in prison or 60% of their sentence, whichever is greater. The maximum time to serve prior to a parole hearing is 30 years.
The bill passed by a vote of 137-4 and now moves to the Senate.
The changes were recommended by the Connecticut Sentencing Commission to comply with the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Miller v. Alabama, which struck down mandatory sentences of life imprisonment without possibility of parole for juvenile offenders. “The Sentencing Commission believed that the best approach to compliance with the Supreme Court decisions was through legislation that considered all implications of those decisions, rather than through years of litigation in the courts,” said Judge Joseph Shortall, chairman of the commission, comprised of the chief state’s attorney, parole board chairman, and defense attorneys.
In February, Wyoming struck down life without parole sentences for children in response to Miller, and several other states have passed new laws to create new sentencing alternatives for children.