After delaying the vote on whether to allow juveniles serving life sentences to qualify for parole, the verdict is in.
The Rhode Island State Senate voted 28-8 this month to approve the bill mandating that anyone convicted of a crime before age 18 be eligible for parole in 15 years, essentially ending life-without-parole sentences for juveniles.
The measure received a lot of push from both ends. Those for the bill citied the 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that had noted adolescence is marked by ‘transient rashness, proclivity for risk, and inability to assess consequences.’ Supporters feared that kids were not being giving a chance at rehabilitation.
Those against the bill, like state Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, whose office expressed their concerns in an interview with Omaha Liberty Herald, did not want to lose an important “tool” that prosecutors can use against a violent offender.
Kilmartin’s office citied how murderer, Craig Price, committed his first killing when he was 13 years old and went on to kill 4 people in total, before he was tried and convicted as a minor. Due to the brutality of his crimes, many groups petitioned to keep him imprisoned. The case led to changes in state law to allow juveniles to be tried as adults for serious crimes.
Under the bill, juveniles who are sentenced as adults will automatically come to before the parole board after 15 years, regardless of the length of their sentence. But, even after 15 years, the state Parole Board will still have the authority to deny parole in each case.
Rhode Island has never tried to sentence a minor to life without parole, but there are currently 9 inmates serving lengthy sentences for juvenile crimes who could be affected by the passing of the bill.
This is an update on an Article Published on June 6th - prior to the Senate's Vote