Nebraska Senator seeks special legislative session on juvenile sentencing

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July 15, 2011

Nebraska

OMAHA, Nebraska: During discussions at the Nebraska Board of Pardons on July 11, Senator Brenda Council said that she plans to send a letter to Governor Dave Heineman asking for him to call a special session to deal with a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that sentencing youths convicted of murder to life without the possibility of parole is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court said that such sentences constitute cruel and unusual punishment, violating the Eight Amendment to the Constitution.[1]

There are currently twenty-six inmates in Nebraska prisons that are serving life sentences for murders committed as juveniles. Two of the inmates, Justeen Williams and Shakur Abdullah, were at the Board of Pardons meeting, asking that their sentences be commuted from life to a specified number of years.[1]

Governor Heineman said that it is unlikely for him to call a special session, but that if the Legislature acted "expeditiously" in the 2013 session, a bill could reach his desk quickly.[1]

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