Life-without-parole sentences for juveniles banned in Iowa

Iowa has joined the growing number of U.S. states that ban life-without-parole sentences for individuals 17 and under. The state Supreme Court issued its ruling in May, arguing that such sentences violate the Iowa Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The decision does not entitle juvenile offenders to parole, but does eliminate “up-front determinations” (namely life-without-parole sentences by a judge). 

According to The Des Moines Register, the recent ruling overturns legislation (SF 448) passed by Iowa lawmakers in 2015. That measure gave prosecutors the option of seeking life-without-parole sentences for some convicted juveniles. 
Kansas and South Dakota are among the other U.S. states that ban life-without-parole sentences for juveniles, the Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth reports. It also notes that over the last four years, the number of states with such bans in place has tripled. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that age and other mitigating factors must be considered before a young offender is sentenced to life without parole. However, judges still have the authority to impose such sentences, absent a state law or court ruling such as Iowa’s.
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