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October 26, 2012

Pennsylvania Gov signs "Miller fix" sentencing legislation into law

As reported in this local article, headlined "Bill provides alternatives to life sentences for juveniles convicted of murder," I believe Pennsylvania has now won the award for being the first state to reform its law to comply with the Supreme Court's Eighth Amendment ruling in Miller v. Alabama.  Here are the details:

Minors convicted of murder in Pennsylvania could serve as little as 20 years in prison under guidelines set in a bill signed into law by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett on Thursday.

The law gives defendants under age 15 at least 20 years for second-degree murder and 25 years for first-degree. Those ages 15 to 17 would see minimum sentences drop to 25 and 35 years, respectively.

The law was spurred by a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that bans automatic life-without-parole sentences for juveniles convicted of murder. York County District Attorney Tom Kearney said the law is a fair answer to the court's ruling. "The approach that is made is a pretty well-balanced one," he said....

Opponents of the then-bill had argued that paroled juvenile murderers would be released with very few life skills. However, Kearney said inmates are offered rehabilitation programs and would likely receive life skills and training for jobs while in prison. "We don't call ... it the Department of Corrections for no reason," he said.

The new guidelines set only the minimum sentencing limits, meaning a convicted murderer could serve a longer sentence -- including a life sentence -- and that inmates are paroled only after they've proven they are fit to return to society....

The law applies only to future cases, officials said. People already sentenced to life without parole for murders they committed as juveniles -- including 11 convicted in York County -- remain in legal limbo.... The state Supreme Court is considering what to do about those currently in the prison system under sentences now deemed to be illegal.

October 26, 2012 at 06:17 PM | Permalink

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Comments

North Carolina passed its Miller fix into law in July. The act is available here http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2011/Bills/Senate/PDF/S635v5.pdf. It does not expressly address the issue of retroactivity. There are approximately 88 Miller-affected inmates in North Carolina, the youngest of whom was 13 when he committed his crime.

--Jamie

Posted by: Jamie Markham | Oct 29, 2012 8:17:51 AM

Honestly, I think Pennsylvania has it fair share of criminal justice problems. But at the moment, its civil legal system seems even more burdened. I mean seriously, a guy there just filed a lawsuit against a stripper for a rough lap dance.

Posted by: Jon Tremmer | Oct 29, 2012 11:34:18 AM

Well Jon if the judge would order the court security to take the filing party and his/her lawyer outback and beat the shit out of them for wasting the courts time and then dismiss the case with prejiduce...we'd see a lot less of them

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Posted by: Crystal Brooch | Nov 12, 2012 9:21:32 PM

This is a joke, people are taking lawsuits to an extreme that is both pitiful and shameful. I have a sister in Markham, Canada who is looking for criminal lawyers to help her with a car burglary. http://www.donnellgroup.ca

Posted by: Tom Hardy | Feb 12, 2013 4:55:36 PM

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