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Louisiana Reviews Sentencing Juveniles to Life Without Parole

A bill by Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, is working its way through the Louisiana Legislature that could help approximately 300 juvenile offenders who received life sentences without parole.

Senate Bill 16 would give juveniles sentenced to life without parole some hope of getting out of prison.  The legislation is part of Gov. John Edwards' criminal justice package aimed at reducing Louisiana's high incarceration rate and save state money on prisons.

The U.S. Supreme Court told Louisiana authorities that juveniles cannot be sent to prison without the opportunity for release; stating it is cruel and should only be used in rare circumstances.

Claitor stated, "This is a mandate from the Supreme Court that says to fix it." 

Claitor's bill calls for all people convicted of second-degree murder while under the age of 18 to be eligible for parole after serving 30 years of their sentence and do not have any disciplinary issues for one year before they go in front of the parole board.  Inmates would also have to earn a GED or some other educational certification, participate in substance abuse treatment (if necessary), and complete 100 hours of reentry programming.

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