Lawyer: New Mexico Man Serving De Facto Life Without Parole

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New Jersey's Department of Corrections doesn't keep track of how many inmates are serving lengthy "de facto" life terms for crimes committed as juveniles, but Shalom said the number is "in the double digits". The other four will be resentenced by judges in the counties where the crimes occurred.

The U.S. Supreme Court has been clear and consistent: In successive decisions over more than a decade, the justices said the harshest punishments levied against adult criminal offenders are unconstitutionally cruel and unusual when imposed on juveniles. No so-called juvenile lifers have been released on parole.

Colorado has almost three dozen inmates who committed crimes as juveniles are serving virtual life sentences of 50 years or more, The Denver Post has reported. "The court is not advocating that all these kids get out", court administrator Kathryn Sinback said, but she added that such inmates should at least have a meaningful chance, after a reasonable amount of time, to show they've been rehabilitated.

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In recent years, the age of juvenile court jurisdiction for most crimes has been raised to those 17 and younger. That bill was amended to 30 years, but many who are pushing for changes say that's too long.

Three of the 38 have been resentenced to terms ranging from 30 to 40 years. The bill was pulled but will be up again next year. The appeals court left his sentence in place. The case involves Jacob Lee Davis, who was an 18-year-old senior in high school when he shot and killed a man his then-girlfriend was dating.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court said its earlier ban on juvenile life without parole applied to those already serving such terms - triggering new sentencing hearings and, in some cases, parole for dozens of former teen offenders across the U.S. Those inmates could join the program after serving 20 years or 25 years if convicted of first-degree murder.