Pennsylvania Legislature Passes Miller Fix - Updated

According to this AP article, the Pennsylvania Legislature has just passed this Miller fix. Pennsylvania Senate Bill 850. For first degree murder, 15-17 year olds would get either a mandatory 35 years to life sentence or a LWOP sentence; those under 15 years old would get either a mandatory 25 years to life or LWOP sentence. For second degree murder, 15-17 year olds would get a mandatory 30 years to life sentence; those under 15 would get 20 years to life sentence. Here is another interesting summary. Here is a link to the official history on the bill. Here is a link to the Senate Fiscal analysis.It is important to stress that higher sentences are possible and it is possible for a judge to still impose a non-parolable life sentences (for first degree murder defendants only) based on a specific finding of facts.

Pennsylvania has three degrees of murder. Murder in the first degree carried natural life or the death penalty. Second degree murder carried a mandatory life without the possibility of parole. Third degree murder is subject to sentencing under Pennsylvania’s Sentencing Guidelines. Pennsylvania Attorney David Lampman has a
nice summary of Pennsylvania’s homicide laws.

Update: I just found out that the Pennsylvania Coalition for Fair Sentencing of Youth and its parent national organization have serious problems with this law. They consider the bill a hasty piece of legislation that has been rushed through. Pennsylvania Governor Corbetthas until October 27th to sign or veto the bill. Under Pennsylvania law, the Governor could also line-item veto the JLWOP provisions from the legislation. Stay tuned.

The law is not retroactive to cases that were finalized before the date that Miller was decided (June 24, 2012).

Miller v Alabama Developments - Updated and Remixed

This is an update and consolidation of several Miller stories posted over the last several days. Last June the United States Supreme Court struck down a mandatory life without a parole sentence given to juveniles who kill. Michigan is the state with second largest group of juveniles serving these JLWOP (“juvenile life without parole”) sentences; Pennsylvania will be the first comprehensive decision. Florida has ruled that Miller is not retroactive in an unpublished decision where the defendant didn’t have counsel and missed key arguments. Louisiana has ruled that Miller is retroactive, but they did so in a summary order without much reasoning. We will be arguing later today that Miller is retroactive in what should be the second comprehensive decision. Read More...