When the juvenile lifer resentencing process began, Pennsylvania had the largest number of individuals who were juveniles at the time they committed their crimes and were later sentenced to life without parole. In Pennsylvania, a life sentence excludes the possibility of parole. However, if a person’s sentence is modified, they may be considered for parole as is required by state law. It must be noted the term “juvenile lifer” is often misunderstood or misused. This phrase applies only to the age of the person at the time of the crime. It does NOT apply to the inmate’s current age, nor the inmate’s age at the time of arrest, conviction or sentencing.
In response to the issues surrounding “juvenile lifers”, the Pennsylvania General Assembly enacted legislation for convictions AFTER June 24, 2012. The law now states:
For a 1st degree murder conviction
Age 15 to 17 Minimum of 35 years to life
Age 15 or younger Minimum of 25 years to life
For a 2nd degree murder conviction
Age 15 to 17 Minimum of 30 years to life
Age 15 or younger Minimum of 20 years to life
Please note: Life without parole remains a discretionary option for both charges of murder.