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"Second Chance" bill passes in its first Senate Committee

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Senator Arthenia Joyner

By Sascha Cordner

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Tallahassee, FL – A bill that would provide a second chance for juvenile offenders sentenced to life in prison cleared its first committee stop Tuesday. As Sascha Cordner reports, it would be up to the initial sentencing judge to give those offenders who committed non-homicide crimes the possibility of parole.

The bill, sponsored by Democratic Senator Arthenia Joyner of Tampa, would leave it up to a judge to take a second look at a juvenile they previously sentenced to life in prison. The judge would check to see if the juvenile has participated in re-entry programs, and determine if the person is reformed for parole.

"And of course, there will be some input from the victims. So, it's not any automatic release. It's just an opportunity for you to ask the court. Will you reduce my sentence? Will you suspend it? Because I've served so many years, I've reformed, I've gotten an education. I've done all of the things that the statute has called for and then the court will make the determination."

Senate Bill-92 would allow a minor to be considered for parole, after the juvenile offender reached the age of 25. Joyner's bill passed unanimously during the Senate Criminal Justice Subcommittee meeting Thursday.