March 17, 2023

Guv signs bill to end life sentencing as a possibility for juveniles sentenced as adults

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill that will eliminate the possibility of a life sentence for juveniles tried as adults for violent crimes.

No Life Sentence for Juveniles, sponsored by state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, D-Albuquerque, will retroactively impact 79 individuals currently incarcerated for violent crimes committed as children. While no one is currently serving a life sentence, the legislation also allows for the possibility of parole within 15, 20 or 25 years, depending on the severity of the crime.

There are some who committed violent crimes as children, sentenced as adults, and serving especially long sentences, Sedillo Lopez said when she presented the bill.

The bill allows a person sentenced as an adult for a violent crime committed while under the age of 18 to go before a parole board after 15 years. Incarcerated individuals who commit first degree murder other than a felony murder, parole eligibility comes at 20 years. For incarcerated individuals with two or more convictions, parole eligibility is set at 25 years.

The bill passed the House of Representatives on Monday.