This bill requires that an offender convicted of aggravated first degree murder for a murder that was committed prior to the offender’s eighteenth birthday will be sentenced to a minimum term of total confinement of 20-25 years and a maximum term of 35 years. The person will become eligible for early release upon expiration of the minimum term. In determining the minimum and maximum terms, the court will consider the offender’s age at the time of the offense, level of participation, intellectual capacity, ability to appreciate the risks and consequences of his or her conduct, degree of familial or peer pressure exerted upon the offender in the commission of the offense, familial and community environment, educational history, history of trauma, faith and community involvement, involvement in the child welfare system, and potential for rehabilitation. The outcomes of a comprehensive metal health evaluation and any other mitigating factors will be considered as well.
A person sentenced under these circumstances will not be eligible for any form of early release during the minimum term of total confinement, with the exception of emergency medical situations. No later than 180 days prior to the expiration of the person’s minimum term, the sentencing court will conduct a hearing to determine whether the person would be released before expiration of the maximum term. The court will consider the following factors when making this decision: extent to which issues concerning juvenile brain development contributed to the offense, person’s age at the time of the offense, person’s intellectual capacity, person’s level of participation in the offense, person’s efforts toward rehabilitation while in prison, person’s participation in and completion of educational and employment programming while in prison, whether the person’s character deficiencies have been reformed, any evidence submitted by the person or the person’s counsel, and any other mitigating factors. Victims and their families will have the opportunity to present statements at the court hearing. If the court does not release the person, it will set a new minimum term of no more than five additional years. If the court does release the person, he or she will be subject to the supervision of the department for a term determined by the court.
Any person convicted of a crime or crimes committed prior to the person’s 18th birthday who received an aggregate sentence of at least 20 years, provided that the person has not been convicted for any crime committed after their 18th birthday, may petition the sentencing court for early release after serving no less than 20 years of confinement. In this situation, the court will grant a hearing no later than 180 days prior to the person serving 20 years and will then follow the process outlined above.
Any person sentenced before the bill goes into effect to a term of life without the possibility of parole for an offense committed before the person’s 18th birthday will be returned to the sentencing court for the setting of minimum and maximum terms of 20-25 years and 35 years, respectively.
Substitute bill: The substitute bill changes the eligibility criteria for review of offenders who have served 20 years or more for an offense committed prior to their eighteenth birthday. While the original bill prohibits any offender who had been convicted for any offense committed subsequent to his or her eighteenth birthday from petitioning the court for release, the substitute bill allows an offender to seek early release as long as he or she has not been convicted of a felony in the five years prior to filing the petition or has committed a major violation in the 12 months prior.