I write in response to the editorial run by the Mirror relative to Senate Bill 850, regarding sentencing for juveniles convicted of homicide.
The editorial expressed the view that the bill finds proper balance in response to the Supreme Court's recent holding prohibiting mandatory life sentences for juveniles. The Mirror further prods the governor to sign this bill into law.
I hope your readers will take a closer look at this bill and reach the opposite conclusion.
The bill, in its current form, sets mandatory minimum sentencing provisions based simply upon the age of the actor. At 14 years of age, the mandatory minimum (meaning a judge has no discretion or authority to sentence to less) is a minimum 25 years sentence.
Should the same offense occur, under identical circumstances, but should the actor be a mere few hours older, now 15, he must receive a minimum sentence of 35 years. Ten years of additional time merely by the passage of one calendar day.
Not only is such a mandatory enhancement devoid of ration and logic, but it fails to address the mitigating circumstances and culpability assessments cited by the Supreme Court as necessary to ensure justice.
Moreover, this bill fails to address, on any level, the nearly 500 state inmates serving life sentences, without the possibility of parole, that were convicted and sentenced as juveniles under the sentencing provisions the Supreme Court has deemed unconstitutional.
This is a deeply flawed bill that should never see the light of day.
Thomas Hooper Duncansville