Pa. House votes to alter juvenile murder sentences

    A bill that would give Pennsylvania judges options other than life in prison when sentencing juveniles in murder cases is closer to passing the Legislature.

    The state House voted 174-to-20 on Tuesday in favor of a new set of sentences, with penalties that depend on the age of the defendant and whether they’re convicted of first- or second-degree murder.

     

    The bill now goes to the Senate, where Republican leaders say it’s likely to pass and go to Gov. Tom Corbett.Defendants under age 15 would serve at least 20 years for second-degree convictions and 25 years for first-degree convictions.

    Fifteen- to 17-year-old offenders would face at least 30 or 35 years.

    The measure follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

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