Gov. Heineman Signs Juvenile Sentencing Bill


Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman signed a bill into law Wednesday that sets a new minimum sentence for juveniles found guilty of first-degree murder.

The law ends mandatory life sentences, now requiring a sentencing range of 40 years to life for juveniles.

Omaha Sen. Brad Ashford, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, introduced the bill after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional.

The measure still allows judges to hand down life sentences, but allows for mitigating factors to be considered. Such factors include a juvenile's age, family life, mental health and efforts made towards rehabilitation.

The 40-year minimum was decided upon as a compromise between lawmakers who wanted a 30-year minimum sentence and those that wanted a 60-year minimum sentence.