Newly signed legislation will eliminate mandatory life sentences for minors in Illinois.
Someone under the age of 18 can still be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, but the new law will leave that to the judge's discretion, rather than imposing a mandatory sentence.
State Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) says he's been trying to get this bill passed for several years to bring the state into compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Miller v. Alabama, and found support was easier to come by this time around.
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"I think there has been a change in perspective on how we deal with crime, and a sense that we need to be smart on crime, not just tough on crime," Harmon said. "We did have, for the first time, broad bipartisan support, and I'm encouraged as to what it means for the future."
Whether that means other mandatory sentencing laws will be eliminated, Harmon can only say the legislature is "a bit confused on that topic," noting calls for new mandatory minimums for gun crimes.
"It's my view that we want a judge to have ample discretion to deal with each person on a case-by-case basis. One-size-fits-all solutions rarely work," Harmon said.