Hawaii abolishes life without parole sentence for juveniles

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Juvenile offenders will no longer be eligible for life in prison without the possibility of parole in Hawaii.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a bill into law Wednesday that abolishes the sentence for offenders who were under the age of 18 at the time of the offense.

Previously, the sentence was mandated for anyone convicted of first-degree murder or first-degree attempted murder, regardless of age. Now, juvenile offenders face life imprisonment with the possibility of parole.

“It has been uniformly rejected by the international community and it’s time we remove this law from our books,” said Rep. Karen Awana (D-West Oahu), who introduced Bill 2116. “Right now, the United States is the only nation in the world that allows children to be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.”

According to a national advocacy group, Hawaii now joins Texas, Wyoming, Kentucky, Kansas, Colorado, Montana, and Alaska as states that have eliminated or do not allow juvenile life without parole sentences.

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