Urge a YES Vote on Amendment to SB 1350 to Allow for Fair and Just Review of Juvenile Sentences

State ACTION ALERT

BACKGROUND:  Two Supreme Court decisions, Graham v. Florida and Miller v. Alabama, have held that a mandatory sentence of life without parole for juveniles does not take into account the unique status of children and their potential for change. Scientific studies of the brain have shown that during adolescence the part of the brain that controls impulsivity is still developing as well as those areas that allow consideration of consequences for actions and ability to assess risks.

 

State ACTION ALERT

BACKGROUND:  Two Supreme Court decisions, Graham v. Florida and Miller v. Alabama, have held that a mandatory sentence of life without parole for juveniles does not take into account the unique status of children and their potential for change. Scientific studies of the brain have shown that during adolescence the part of the brain that controls impulsivity is still developing as well as those areas that allow consideration of consequences for actions and ability to assess risks.

SB 1350 by Senator Bradley requires a juvenile to serve a term not less than 50 years if the judge determines that a life sentence for the juvenile is not an appropriate sentence for a capitol felony. Juveniles who have committed nonhomicide crimes can be sentenced up to 50 years. In addition to a juvenile’s diminished capacity for appropriate decision making, the Miller decision also noted life sentences do not take into account the effect of dysfunctional home environments and peer pressures. The Graham decision also called for a “meaningful opportunity for review of the sentence”, a provision not included in the current bill. 

An amendment by Senator Rene Garcia would allow for a review by the resentencing court after serving 25 years of the 50 year sentence for homicides, looking at factors that would indicate ability to re-enter society. Juveniles sentenced to more than 25 years up to 50 years would have a single review hearing at the midpoint of the sentence. Such a policy does not diminish concern for victims of crime. Persons convicted of crime should receive a just punishment.

ACTION: Please send an email to your Florida state Senator and urge a yes vote on the Garcia amendment to SB 1350 (Bradley). Please act immediately, the Senate will hear the bill on special order calendar on Monday, April 29th.

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