South Dakota Abolishes Life Without Parole Sentences for Children


Last Wednesday, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard signed SB 140, which abolishes life imprisonment without parole sentences for all children under age 18 at the time of the crime.

The new law eliminates life imprisonment, which was the mandatory sentence for juveniles convicted of Class A, B, and C felonies, and replaces it with a term of years in the state penitentiary.

South Dakota is the latest state to pass such legislation after the Supreme Court banned mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juvenile offenders in Miller v. Alabama.

Hawaii, Connecticut, West Virginia, Delaware, Nevada, Vermont, Wyoming, and Texas also have eliminated death-in-prison sentences for children in recent years.