LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - An Arkansas judge has struck down a new state law eliminating mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles, ruling that it denies individualized sentencing hearings to offenders who are in prison for offenses committed when they were minors.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen ruled the law unconstitutional Thursday and ordered a new sentencing hearing for a man convicted of capital murder for a fatal shooting he committed when he was 16. The new Arkansas law was enacted this year to comply with recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that say mandatory life sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional.
The law allows minors who were given life-without-parole sentences to be eligible for parole after serving 20 to 30 years in prison, depending on the charges.