State senate OKs life sentence option for kids guilty of murder

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Missouri lawmakers have advanced a bill that addresses issues with a state law requiring lifetime prison sentences for people younger than 16 who are convicted of first-degree murder.

The Senate in a voice vote Wednesday gave initial approval to a measure that authorizes less severe punishments. It needs another vote to go to the House.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 ruled mandatory life sentences for minors are unconstitutional.

A bill by Republican Sen. Bob Dixon, of Springfield, would give jurors the option of life without parole or at least 35 years for youths under 16 who are convicted of first-degree murder. Those ages 16 to 18 could be sentenced either to life without parole or at least 50 years in prison.

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