LWOP News | March 9, 2019

Justice reformers set their sights on life sentences

Michael P. Norton
7 March 2019

Massachusetts lawmakers have drafted legislation called “An Act to Reduce Mass Incarceration” that would give those serving life without parole sentences the possibility of release. All those serving life sentences would receive a parole hearing after 25 years, which would apply retroactively. It has been 22 years since the last time Massachusetts commuted a sentence for someone serving life without parole. Massachusetts has the second highest percentage of prisoners serving LWOP sentences in the United States.


Searchable database: Learn more about the 185 Tennessee teen lifers

Duane Gang
6 March 2019

Tennessee has been reviewing the cases of all inmates serving life without parole sentences who were convicted as juveniles. They created a database so that people could learn more about each of the 185 people serving life sentences. Check out the database if you have a moment.


Death penalty bill would give life sentences to death row convicts

Noelle Crombie
6 March 2019

The Oregon State House is considering a bill that would eliminate the death penalty. Those who have received the death penalty would have the chance to be resentenced. The new maximum sentence would be life without the possibility of parole.


Bad joke: Juvenile Law Center upset with SNL’s Michael Che about the release of “juvenile lifer”

Kia Morgan-Smith
5 March 2019

Michael Che made a joke this week about a 70-year-old man who was recently released from jail after being sentenced as a juvenile. Che commented that the man missed many things, but “mostly murdering.” The Juvenile Law Center took to Twitter to explain why they were disappointed by the joke, attempting to bring this topic into a national conversation about juvenile life without parole.


360 Perspective: Death Penalty Repeal bill

Elizabeth Watts
5 March 2019

The Colorado State Senate introduced a bill to repeal the death penalty this Monday. SB19-182 would replace death penalty sentences with life without parole. The bill argues that life without parole is more “cost effective” and that the death penalty unjustly targets the poor and people of color. Governer Polis has signalled that he would sign a bill to repeal the death penalty and would consider commuting the sentences of those who are still on death row.


State Superior Court urges Supreme Court to review issues of brain maturity in convicts

Andrew Goldstein
1 March 2019

The Pennsylvania Superior Court asked the State Supreme Court to determine whether courts should consider juvenile brain development at the time of sentencing. This statement was prompted by the Superior Court’s decision to not grant Avis Lee, convicted of second-degree murder as an 18-year-old in 1981, the chance to challenge her life without parole sentence. She attempted to challenge her sentence following the 2016 US Supreme Court decision to retroactively eliminate LWOP sentences for those younger than 18.


A man who spent 56 years behind bars for a juvenile conviction was just freed, highlighting old laws

Meghan Keneally
28 February 2019

After being convicted for murder as a 17-year-old and serving 56 years in prison, Sheldry Topp is finally free. The now 74-year-old Michigan man uses a wheelchair to get around. The 2016 US Supreme Court case to allow for the retroactive elimination of juvenile LWOP aided Topp. He was the oldest-serving Michigan inmate sentenced to LWOP as a juvenile.

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