The State Supreme Court has ruled each of the cases needs to go through the normal judicial process to comply with a United States Supreme Court ruling handed down this summer.
Gov. Dave Heineman says the Pardons Board must comply with the State Supreme Court ruling.
“I still think we have a challenge that the legislature can deal with this issue prospectively, but what are you going to do with the 24 or 27 that are already there?” asks Heineman. “But, they said the Pardons Board can’t act right now. I accept that and I’m moving forward.”
The U-S Supreme Court has ruled that judges must be given options other than life in prison for juveniles convicted of capital crimes. Attorney General Jon Bruning proposed that the Pardons Board review the cases of 24 prisoners serving life sentences for crimes committed as juveniles. A district judge blocked the move and the State Supreme Court upheld the judge upon appeal.
Bruning had said he wanted to save taxpayer money as well as the resources of his office. Now, the Attorney General’s office will have to move through the appellate process to seek appropriate sentences for each prisoner.
Heineman says the legislature will have to deal with the U-S Supreme Court ruling.
“And I think that’s going to be a real difficult issue, because if you commit First Degree murder or you’re a First Degree murderer when you’re 15 or 16, what’s the appropriate sentence?”
Heineman says the legislature will have to adjust Nebraska law to give judges an option in sentencing juveniles convicted of murder.
“Up till now, in many cases, we thought it was life or certainly life without parole and so, it’s going to be an interesting discussion. I don’t think most Nebraskans want them to be let out in 20 or 25 years when you’ve done something like this,” according to Heineman.