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Senate panel advances juvenile life sentence fix

Thursday, March 6, 2014 | 7:35 a.m. CST; updated 10:29 a.m. CST, Thursday, March 6, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY — A Missouri Senate panel has endorsed legislation that would change how the state sentences juveniles convicted of first-degree murder.

Current law only allows juveniles to serve life sentences without the possibility of parole — a punishment deemed inappropriate by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The measure adopted by the Senate judiciary committee on Wednesday would allow those older than 16 to serve life without parole or a 50-year minimum sentence. Offenders younger than 16 could also spend their lives behind bars or be eligible for parole after 35 years.

In 2012, the high court said states can't automatically impose life without parole sentences for juveniles. It said states must account for differences between juveniles and adults when sentencing them for murder.


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