While lawmakers in Colorado are hesitant to get behind criminal justice reform measures of any kind, there are changes they may HAVE to make in the future. The recent SCOTUS ruling concerning the retroactive application of Miller and Graham (juvenile life without parole) is just the beginning.
The next rulings that may well force the hand of lawmakers across the United States and in Colorado will answer the question "What constitutes a life sentence?" "Are adult mandatory sentences applicable to juvenile offenders?" Here is an informative article on the topic: Justices to Continue Shaping Eighth Amendment Case Law for Juveniles
In Colorado alone there are approximately 2000 men and women who were sentenced to adult prisons for crimes they committed as juveniles and they are serving what is considered de facto life sentences. In other words, these kids were given consecutive sentences that add up to 50, 60 75, 100 200 years in prison. Yes at 15, 16 or 17 they were told that they would spend their lives in prison. In most cases these sentences were effected by mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines that tied the hands of the judges.
The Colorado Appellate Court handed down a powerful ruling in Rainer vs Colorado ruling that Rainer's 222 year sentence was unconstitutional. That case is now headed for the Colorado Supreme Court. We will see how it turns out. In the mean time, there are cases like Rainer's that are already headed to the US Supreme Court. In addition there are cases that may answer another burning question "What is the life expectancy of an inmate?"
Colorado may be dragged into the criminal justice reform movement kicking and screaming....but reform will come.
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