The Rhode Island Senate is currently considering legislation that would effectively eliminate life-without-parole sentences for juvenile offenders by mandating that anyone convicted of a crime before the age of 18 be eligible for parole in 15 years.
Proponents of the bill emphasize that it does not eliminate life sentences for young offenders, it just ensures that they get a chance at parole review. Opponents, including Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, warn that the legislation, if passed, would bar the Court from imposing a life without parole sentence.
Over the past several years State lawmakers have considered but failed to pass similar legislation. The Senate Bill's House counterpart has been held for further study. 17 other states have passed laws banning life without parole for juvenile offenders.