The state House and Senate are coming down to the wire on creating a sentencing option for juveniles guilty of first-degree murder.
The U.S. Supreme Court in June of 2012 struck down the death penalty for juveniles and ruled that life without parole cannot be the only possible sentence for juveniles guilty of first-degree murder. That left Missouri with no constitutional options for the sentencing of such juveniles.
The Senate proposed sentences of at least 50-years or life without parole for those 16 or 17 at the time of their crime, and 35-years or life without for those 15 and younger. With the end of the session coming Friday, that plan is close to being debated on the House floor.
Representative Robert Cornejo (R-St. Peters) said the House is likely to change those proposed sentences to his version.
“There’s a range of years of 30 to 40, life with parole, or life without parole,” said Cornejo.
Cornejo said a solution is overdue.
“If we don’t do something then really the only option prosecutors have shown that they’re able to do is to prosecute someone under second-degree murder,” said Cornejo.
Senate sponsor Bob Dixon (R-Springfield) told Missourinet he just wants to get a proposal from the House.
“This is the fourth year the Senate has taken the bill up, the second year the Senate has sent a bill to the House, and we have never had a bill come over here from the House in four years,” said Dixon. “We just need a bill from the House, otherwise hardened first-degree murderers are basically not going to be able to be sentenced if they were juveniles.”
Both lawmakers hope a bill can be agreed on before the session ends Friday.