Parole Considered for Juveniles Given Life Sentences

DENVER — Officials in Colorado are considering revising legislation for juvenile offenders that mandates tough penalties that mirror adult sentences.

A House committee recently approved a bill that would allow juveniles convicted as adults for murder to have parole hearings after 40 years. The Colorado District Attorney’s Council says it is willing to discuss possible changes to juvenile sentencing laws if the changes would not affect youths that were already sentenced.

Colorado is one of 14 states that allow juveniles to be charged as adults and sentenced to life in prison. The state is housing 45 inmates that were sentenced to life in prison when they were under 18, the 11th-highest number in the country.

Advocates for legislative change argue that the human brain is not fully developed before the age of 18. Therefore, juveniles should be subjected to different criminal justice procedures than adults.

Colorado juveniles can be tried as an adult when they are 14 years old.

Since 1998, 1,244 juvenile cases in the state resulted in adult convictions.

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