Oregonians Serving Life Without Parole For Crimes Committed As Minors

Phillip Cunningham
August 1, 2017

After the Supreme Court's 2012 ruling, Missouri lacked valid sentencing guidelines for juvenile murderers, forcing the state's prosecutors to instead charge young offenders with second-degree murder. In January 2016 the court made its ruling retroactive, saying offenders already serving such sentences must get a chance to show their crimes did not reflect "irreparable corruption".

Offenders given true-life sentences for crimes committed as juveniles have gained a glimmer of hope they might someday be released.

The U.S. Supreme Court has been clear and consistent: In successive decisions over more than a decade, the justices said the harshest punishments levied against adult criminal offenders are unconstitutionally cruel and unusual when imposed on juveniles.

Wisconsin has no mandatory life sentence without parole for juveniles. An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is pending.

Since the law was changed, 14 juvenile offenders serving life have been resentenced.

However, corrections officials say there are no known inmates facing life terms without parole for juvenile offenses. The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth says more than 100 former teen offenders are immediately affected. They argued that the three sentences should run together, so he'd be eligible for release after 30 years. The Supreme Court has yet to rule on whether lengthy alternative sentences to life without parole are constitutional, Marsha Levick of the national Juvenile Law Center said, but she believes those cases eventually will be taken up.

For now, petitions for resentencing hearings are handled differently from county to county and even between judges in the same courthouse. Blizzard, now 52, was released from prison in 2014, one of more than a dozen convicted killers in DE who were resentenced after initially being given life in prison for crimes committed as juveniles.

There is at least one case in Tennessee courts that challenges the 51-year sentence.

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