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March 20, 2016

South Dakota bans all juve LWOP sentences

As reported in this local article, as of last week "South Dakota has banned the practice of sentencing children to life in prison without the possibility of parole."  Here is more about this notable legislative development:

Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed SB 140 sponsored by Sen. Craig Tieszen, into law on Wednesday. In making this change, South Dakota joins states such as Wyoming, Nevada and West Virginia in implementing less punitive accountability measures for children.

“Every year I try to bring at least one bill that I truly believe in while knowing it will be a struggle,” said Sen. Tieszen. “I believe that children, even children who commit terrible crimes, can and do change. And, I believe they deserve a chance to demonstrate that change and become productive citizens. In the end, I gathered a very diverse set of legislators from across the political spectrum and passed the bill with solid margins.”

SB 140 eliminates all life sentences for people who were younger than 18 at the time of their crimes.  Fifteen states now ban life-without-parole sentences for children.

“South Dakota is helping to lead important change in the ways that we hold our children accountable,” said Jody Kent Lavy, director and national coordinator at the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth. “Teenagers who commit serious crimes will now have an opportunity after several years to demonstrate that they have been rehabilitated and are ready to re-enter society. Jurisprudence and adolescent development research document that appropriate sentences consider children’s age at the time of a crime, the trauma they have experienced and their capacity for change.”

March 20, 2016 at 11:17 AM | Permalink


I appreciate this but on some level we are really talking about a low bar especially if all it amounts is the CHANCE to get parole. Putting sixteen and seventeen year olds in prison for thirty years, e.g., is pretty serious too especially compared to the limits for even adult murderers in certain countries.

Posted by: Joe | Mar 20, 2016 6:19:47 PM

All criminals have the capacity to change.

Which means they have the capacity to become worse, just as they have the capacity to stay the same, both, seemingly, overlooked.

Posted by: DSharp | Mar 21, 2016 4:22:13 AM

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