Vermont is the latest state to pass legislation in response to Miller v. Alabama, the Supreme Court decision banning mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juvenile offenders. Hawaii, West Virginia, Delaware, Wyoming, and Texas also have eliminated death-in-prison sentences for children in recent years.
The bill, H.62, provides that a court “shall not sentence a person to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole if the person was under 18 years of age at the time of the commission of the offense” and takes effect on passage.
Vermont Rep. Barbara Rachelson sponsored the legislation. “I am appalled that the US is the only country in the world that still sentences juveniles to life sentences without the possibility of release or parole, and currently 2,500 individuals in the US are sentenced to die in prison for crimes they committed as children,” she said. “While I am proud to say that Vermont has never handed out this sentence, the signing of H.62 will take this sentence off the books and assure that it will never happen.”
EJI believes it is cruel and unusual punishment to sentence a child to die in prison and we applaud Vermont for abolishing this unconstitutional sentence. We invite you to learn more about EJI’s nationwide litigation campaign to challenge death-in-prison sentences imposed on children.