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Lawmakers debate sentencing guidelines for juveniles

Juveniles convicted of Class 1A felonies would no longer face a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole under a bill introduced by Senator Brad Ashford of Omaha, which the Legislature debated Monday.

The bill (LB44) would establish a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a minimum sentence of 30 years imprisonment for juvenile offenders convicted of the most serious crimes, like murder, rape and kidnapping.

Opponents of the bill argue that 30 years is not enough considering offenders would be eligible for parole after 15 years, and that some of the bill’s language is imprecise.

Supporters of the bill counter by saying that it still gives judges discretion in sentencing, and that several other states – including Iowa and Wyoming – have adopted similar minimum sentences.

Contact Shelby Friesz at and Joseph Moore at