Nebraska minors won’t be locked up for life with no chance of parole if new bill passes

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — A new proposal at the State Capitol would give juvenile offenders the opportunity to rehabilitate their lives and reintegrate themselves into society. 

The Judiciary Committee held a hearing on one of those measures, Legislative Bill 339, on Wednesday.

Sen. Terrell McKinney wants to put an end to giving juvenile offenders a life sentence without any chance of parole.

His proposal would also raise the age of jurisdiction for juvenile court to 21.

The Interstate Commission for Juveniles has a state-by-state breakdown showing at what age people can be prosecuted as adults.

It says anyone 18 and over who’s accused of a crime is automatically sent to adult court here in Nebraska.

But kids as young as 14 could have their cases transferred to adult court.

The National Governors Association says there’s a growing movement to better meet the developmental needs of minors by raising age limits.

The American Psychological Association says research shows teens and young adults are more likely to engage in risky behavior as their brains are still maturing. 

“We are really talking about someone who doesn’t have the ability to inhibit themselves from risky behaviors the way that an adult would until probably 25 or after,” said Mitch Prinstein, chief science officer for the association.

Opponents of the bill say it proposes dramatic changes and takes discretion away from judges.

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