Colorado Juvenile Equal Protection Act: Should terms be lowered for 48 lifers busted as juvies?

Although Representative Claire Levy has gotten plenty of attention for her sponsorship of THC driving limits, and her change of heart over the best possible standard, she's equally passionate about the Colorado Juvenile Equal Protection Act, which is slated to go before the judiciary committee today. It, too, could stir controversy, since it would reduce the sentences of 48 killers convicted or murder as juvies.

The subject of youthful slayers is much in the news these days due to the Burlington twelve-year-old accused of killing parents Charles and Marilyn Long and seriously wounding two younger siblings. No decision has been made thus far to try the boy as an adult, but there's still a chance he could become the youngest person in Colorado history so prosecuted for murder.

According to Levy, the Colorado Juvenile Equal Protection Act, officially known as HB 1287 (read it below), would allow juveniles sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole to be eligible for this process after serving forty years. In addition, juveniles sentenced to terms of similar length, but with parole as an option, could be considered for transition into community corrections programs after serving twenty calendar years if they're within ten years of their parole eligibility date.

The reason the legislation is necessary, Levy believes, is because "Colorado changed its law in 2006 to eliminate life without parole for juveniles -- but 48 kids had already been sentenced to life without parole. This would make the law retroactive, and would remove the disparity in consequences for the same crime."

In her view, "it's a question of fairness, and a question of having our laws reflect what our society thinks is appropriate for juvenile offenders."

Regarding the Burlington case, Levy notes that "a twelve-year-old can't be charged as an adult without a transfer hearing and a judge deciding that's appropriate. Now, in the past, I've worked on allowing judges to make these decisions rather than giving all that power to prosecutors unilaterally. But it's important to note that if this child were prosecuted as an adult and convicted of first-degree murder, even though he potentially killed both of his parents and badly wounded two of his siblings, he would not serve life without parole. He would be eligible for parole after forty years" because of the 2006 law.

Page down to read the Colorado Juvenile Equal Protection Act.

Colorado Juvenile Equal Protection Act: HB 1287

More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Kayleah Wilson: Robert Montoya found guilty of 2 sex assault counts, faces 8 years."

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