The Carnage Continues

Hearing for teen accused of murder is held – April 2013.

Colorado Case Referenced in TownHall.Com Article About Supreme Court Ruling Against Mandatory JLWOP

Life Terms for Teen Killers: Neither Cruel Nor Unusual

Jeff JacobyJeff Jacoby  Jul 16,  2012

Life Terms for Teen Killers: Neither Cruel Nor Unusual

IN A COLORADO TOWN in 1996, Verle Mangum bludgeoned Janet and Jennifer Davis to death.

Janet, a 42-year-old nurse’s aide, had come home from work and discovered Mangum, then 17, having sex with her 11-year-old daughter, Jennifer. When Janet reached for the phone to call the police, Mangum picked up a baseball bat and fatally bashed her with it. He then used the bat to murder Jennifer as she cowered in the bedroom.

A jury eventually convicted Mangum of both murders. Under Colorado law he was given a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. In 2007, when the convictions were upheld on appeal, the prosecutor expressed relief. “This was one of the most heinous crimes in the history of our community,” District Attorney Pete Hautzinger told the Grand Junction (Col.) Free Press. “It is very gratifying to know for sure that he will be staying in prison for the rest of his life.”

But that’s no longer a sure thing — not after the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in Miller v. Alabama last month that the Eighth Amendment’s ban on “cruel and unusual punishments” does not allow states to mandate life without parole for murderers who were minors when they committed their crime. Mangum, like at least 2,000 other juvenile killers serving mandatory life terms, including more than 60 in Massachusetts, will now have to be resentenced. The families of murder victims nationwide have now lost the reassurance that their loved ones’ killers would never be turned loose. Survivors may be forced to testify all over again. There is no telling how many monsters like Mangum will end up serving less — perhaps much less — than the life sentence the judge and jury imposed.

Hautzinger, outraged by their decision, said its impact would be “inhuman.” And when Mitt Romney held a town-hall meeting in Grand Junction last week, the DA showed up and asked him to comment on what the Supreme Court had done. But Romney sidestepped. He said only that he would “look at the particular case,” and that he favors “swift and severe punishment” for serious crimes.

What Romney should have said was that the court’s ruling was illogical and indefensible — a textbook case of justices turning their personal preferences into constitutional commands.

There is nothing uncommon about laws requiring life without parole for juvenile murderers, so such punishment can hardly be barred by the Eighth Amendment. As Justice Elena Kagan’s majority opinion concedes, legislators in 28 states plus the federal government have enacted laws mandating that penalty. Courts have meted it out thousands of times. Liberals may disapprove of mandatory “true life,” but it plainly isn’t unusual. By definition, therefore, it isn’t “cruel and unusual.”

Miller marks the third time in recent years that the Supreme Court has invoked “evolving standards of decency” to rationalize a new constitutional barrier to punishing minors convicted of terrible crimes. In Roper v. Simmons 2005), the court outlawed the death penalty for any criminal who was under 18 at the time of his offense. At the time, the majority observed that “life imprisonment without the possibility of parole” would remain an option. Yet now, in what the dissent calls “classic bait and switch,” the court tells states they may not insist on that option.

In Graham v. Florida (2010), meanwhile, the court ruled that juvenile offenders could not be sentenced to a lifetime behind bars for any crime but homicide, no matter how violent. (After all, said the court, “there is a line between homicide and other serious violent offenses.”) But now five justices declare that mandatory life sentences are unconstitutional for youthful killers too. And it’s only a matter of time, they hint broadly, until even discretionary life-without-parole is struck down.

In all these cases, the court has leaned heavily on social science and psychiatry. Since adolescents tend by nature to be more reckless and impulsive than adults, the majority argues, they cannot be assigned quite the same “moral culpability” for their deeds.

As a general rule, that’s obvious; it’s why the law distinguishes between adults and minors in the first place. But why should policymakers be prohibited from recognizing exceptions to the rule, and treating juveniles as adults in certain extreme circumstances?

Suppose, to go back to that terrible day in 1996, a 17-year-old had burst in on Mangum and prevented him from murdering Janet and Jennifer Davis. If public officials then wished to reward that teen for his life-saving courage, no one would suggest that the honor be diminished on the grounds that the hero’s adolescent brain didn’t fully grasp the significance of his valiant behavior. Most Americans would regard it as similarly unreasonable to suggest that any juvenile who acts with criminal depravity must be too mentally immature to understand what he is doing.

Supreme Court justices may personally disagree, of course. But to turn their disagreement into a constitutional imperative? To wrap their subjective views in the authority of the Eighth Amendment? That is inexcusable, and Mitt Romney ought to say so.

STOP HB 1271 – March 2012

House Bill 1271 – Juvenile Direct File Limitations
Under current law, a juvenile charged with a specific serious crime can be prosecuted in district court under the district attorney’s authority to direct file certain juveniles. This bill amends the direct file statute to limit the offenses for which a juvenile may be subject to direct file to class 1 felonies, class 2 felonies, crime of violence felonies for prior violent juvenile offenders, and violent sex offenses. If, after a preliminary hearing, the district court does not find probable cause for a direct-file-eligible offense, the court shall remand the case to the juvenile court. The bill also provides for a reverse-transfer hearing for juveniles who fall within a specified class, which juveniles may petition the adult criminal court to transfer the case back to juvenile court after the preliminary hearing. Under the bill, a juvenile’s non-felony conviction must be remanded to juvenile court and, when a juvenile sentence is selected, the conviction converts to a juvenile adjudication.
  • Passage of this bill would make Colorado one of the most lenient states in
    the handling of violent juvenile offenders contrary to some of the statements made by public officials. Thirty-eight states, Washington DC and the Feds either have direct file for serious violent offenses, or statutorily exempt these cases from consideration by the juvenile court, or have a mandatory transfer to adult court – 38 states say the worst offenders who commit the most serious crimes shall be treated as adults.
  • In Colorado, 80 to 85% of all direct file juveniles go to the Youthful
    Offender System (YOS), not adult prison. It is critical to understand that only juveniles who are charged and convicted as adults are eligible for YOS. House Bill 1271 will effectively strip YOS of recourses. Funds currently being allocated to YOS would be redirected from YOS and, instead, go to the additional processing and court costs associated with making it mandatory for all direct file to go through an adjudicated hearing. HB 1271 would strip this highly successful program, and ironically, will actually the very justice for juvenile offenders that proponents of this change claim they’re seeking.

    • YOS has the lowest recidivism rate of any correctional facility in Colorado and was created to house juveniles prosecuted as adults who commit class 2, 3, and 4 felonies.
    • NO OTHER STATE has a facility like YOS. This means comparing recidivism rates from other states to Colorado is extremely misleading.
    • A sentence to YOS is typically for 5-7 years and for serious violent crimes that an adult might serve 20 – 40 years for in DOC. Only if the juvenile fails to complete the YOS program will he or she be subject to a lengthy sentence to DOC. Offenders who complete YOS will likely leave the facility with, at a minimum, a high school diploma and most likely some college credit.
    • There were a total of only 61 direct files out of 9,7000 juvenile cases last
Please call your Senator and ask them to vote NO on HB 1271. To find your Senator’s
information visit:
Please call or write the Governor and ask him to VETO HB 1271 if it gets to his desk:
John W Hickenlooper, Governor
136 State Capitol
Denver, CO
Phone (303) 866-2471
For more information go to:

Sneaky Tactics in Colorado

The last week of March 2011 in Colorado saw a lot of antics around HB 1287, that would retroactively offer parole to convicted murderers sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, and without victims being notified.

No notice was given to the victims families that would be the most affected by the legislation or to the Law Enforcement most familiar with the cases. Even despite this sneak attack, which signalled the weakness of the juvenile advocates’ argument that they did not want all the stakeholders notified, the bill was duly defeated in committee on March 29, 2011, after an agonizing 5 hour hearing. The next day with heavy pressure put on Freshman Representative Duran who voted no on this probably unconstitutional bill in recognition also of how victims had not been notified, she tried to flip her vote. Law enforcement, District Attorneys, those concerned with public safety, and worst of all, murder victims families were once again left hanging while the political football was tossed around. Through a totally back door political manuver, even though the bill lost in committee, Rep. Nikkel and Levy, the sponsors, tried to push it out to the House floor anyway. Fortunately, their attempts failed.

We cannot stress how strongly we object to the dishonest tactics being used by those advocating for the offenders that murdered our loved ones.

Rep. Duran took time to call NOVJL and we appreciate this, and respect how she is struggling with this issue. No struggle is necessary, however, because when courts give a long due process to a convicted murderer, and a final determination is made of natural life for a horrific murder, only a Governor through clemency can undo that. Not legislatures. Duran  stated to us that she wished to see the constitutionality tested so that this matter could be resolved for once and for all, but she also made it clear that she opposed life sentences for 17 year old offenders, no matter if they were mass murderers or not. She is a young first term representative and should receive calls of support to stand as she did at the hearing in her original vote with victims and the constitution.

Rep. B.J. Nikkel, the co-sponsor of HB11-1287 and the lone Republican on the Judiciary Committee who sponsored the bill and voted to pass it, received $800 in campaign contributions from convicted murderer Erik Jensen’s parents in 2010 and another $300 from Mary Ellen Johnson, the Director of the Pendulum Foundation. She also received hundreds of dollars in donations from other individuals named Jensen, who we cannot verify as members of Erik’s family. There may be more money donated to her from that offender community that we cannot trace. We are troubled by this seeming conflict of interest – taking money from family members of convicted murderers and then sponsoring and pushing legislation to release the offender early.

Read Denver Post coverage.

HB 1287 Defeated in Committee

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 in the Colorado House Judiciary Committee, HB 1287, that would have retroactively offered parole early release opportunities to convicted murderers sentenced to life without parole for killing people prior to reaching the age of 18, was defeated 6-5. The bill is now defeated for this session. The five hour long hearing was intensely emotional and contentious. Legislators voting on the bill reported that it was among the most difficult votes of their political careers.

Only two victims families of those murdered by the 48 cases of “Juvenile Life Without Parole” were able to appear at the hearing in oposition to the bill that was held with almost NO notice. This “sneak attack” strategy by advocates against JLWOP obviously failed when the bill went down, and many present expressed anger and frustration that the other victims families could not be found with only two days notice of the bill being called. A few other families were able to send in emails, and legal concerns about violations of the Colorado Victims Rights Amendment were cited.

Some victims, including Sharletta Evans, mother of one of the murder victims killed by a “juvenile lifer” spoke in favor of the bill, citing her work with teens in gang violence prevention in moving testimony, telling how she had been changed by the pleas and apologies of the mother of the offender.

Prosecutors testimony about the actual facts of the crimes, as well as legal testimony from the Attorney General’s office that the constitutionality of this retroactive legislation was highly questionable and would likely be battled all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court where the bill could be completely overturned even if it were passed, carried the day.

Thank you’s can be delivered to these heroes for victims:

Mitch Morrissey
Denver District Attorney
201 West Colfax Ave
Suite 801
Denver CO 80202

Michael Daugherty
Attorney General’s Office
1525  Sherman Street
Denver CO  80203

Steven R Siegel
Director, Special Programs Unit
Denver District Attorney’s Office

Joe Cannata, Voices of Victims

Legal Analysis Regarding the Unconstitutionality of HB11-1287

Attorneys testifying before the Colorado House Judiciary Committee showed how the bill is unconstitutional:

  • HB 1287 is unconstitutional on its face as violates the separation of powers by allowing the legislature to improperly usurp the power of commutation expressly reserved to and possessed by the Governor under Colorado law.
  • Art IV, Sect 7 of the Colorado Constitution provides that, “The Governor shall have the power to grant reprieves, commutations, and pardons after conviction, for all offenses except treason.
  • In People V. Herrera, the Colorado Supreme Court held that the power of commutation –which is at issue in this bill – is the power to reduce punishment from a greater to a lesser sentence.
  • Herrera firmly established that the correction of any inequities and injustices in sentences is a power that belongs to the Governor in Colorado.
  • Just as the Herrera court found that nowhere does our constitution vest the power of commutation in the judiciary in that case—neither does it vest that power in the legislature here today.
  • Further, there is no merit to the argument that this bill does not reduce and create lesser sentences.  In fact, the reduction of these sentences by legislative fiat is exactly why these victim’s family members are here in opposition to this bill.
  • In Graham V. Florida – the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010 – held that life without parole is second most severe penalty permitted by law and that life without parole shares some characteristics with the death sentences that are shared by no other sentences.
  • Both the Nebraska Supreme Court (State v. Gales – 2003) and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (Commonwealth v Sutley – 1977) have definitively determined that life without parole is a different and more serious sentence than life with the possibility of parole.
  • Accordingly, changing a sentence from life without parole to life with the possibility of parole clearly creates a lesser sentence and in Colorado only the Governor can do that once a conviction is final.

The Bill violates the promises made to victim’s families, breaches the public trust in the judiciary and truth in sentencing and potentially violates the Victims Rights Act.

  • In many ways, the most disturbing aspect of this bill is that is dismissive of the impact on victims and breaks a series of promises they were made by both the judiciary and the prosecutors in their cases.
  • This bill unravels the presumed certainty that victim’s families were promised by the court and by prosecutors upon the final convictions of these murderers.
  • It should be noted that several of the witnesses testifying against this bill were also here in 2006 when that legislature also promised them that their cases would not be impacted by any retroactive reduction in sentences.  While this legislature is certainly not bound by the promises made in 2006, it should respect them and acknowledge why they were made.
  • There are also serious ramifications relating to the Colorado Victims Rights Act.  The clear intent of that constitutional amendment is to ensure that any victim’s designee or family member who wants information about critical stages in their cases is ALWAYS informed and given a right to be heard in a meaningful way.
  • The reduction of a sentence or any proceeding that contemplates such an impact on a sentence is undoubtedly a critical stage in the criminal justice system whenever the judiciary, the Governor or a prosecutor makes such a decision or engages in any such hearing or process.
  • Because this bill injects the legislature into the fundamental workings of the criminal justice system by usurping the Governor’s authority to commute sentences, the VRA is triggered.  In short, if the legislature wants to play in the criminal justice arena by reducing sentences, it must play by the same rules.
  • Legally it is unsure how this would work or who would have to notify victims. No one ever contemplated the legislature attempting this type of intrusion into the criminal justice system. But the basic concept has to hold true to the intent of the VRA: Victims have a right to know when something like this is being contemplated.

You can contact your Colorado Legislators at this website to express your concerns about the issue.

Colorado House Bill (HB) 11-1287 was sponsored by Rep. Claire Levy (D) 303-866-2578 [email protected] and Rep. B.J. Nikkel (R) 303-866-2907 [email protected]. The Senate Sponsor is Sen. Linda Newell, 303-866-4846 [email protected].

The final vote, bi-partisan on both sides in the Colorado House Judiciary, on HB11- 1287 went as follows:
No vote – for victims and law enforcement or siding with legal concerns about the unconsitutionality of the proposal, legislators cannot undo final sentences, only the Governor can legally: DelGrosso, Duran, Sonnenberg, Waller, Barker, B. Gardner (chair)

Yes vote siding with allowing for early release of convicted killers sentenced to life without parole, and knowing that most victims families of these crimes had not been notified of the hearing today:  Kagan, Lee, Levy, Nikkel, Ryden

Advocates for the Killers Violating Victims Rights

The advocates at the Pendulum Foundation who have led this push to free teen killers sentenced to life had been promising all along that they would always include, inform, and be sensitive to the victims families of these cases.

Apparently they no longer intend to be true to their word. In March 2011 we heard of new legislation, HB 1287, that would retroactively parole these offenders. And the victims families of the 41 cases have NOT been informed of the hearings being held on March 29 in the state capitol on the bill that would so profoundly affect them.

They told NOVJL directly in March 2011 that they were “weary” from victim opposition, and intended to go ahead without including them in these hearings. (We believe we are the only ones in this equation that have a right to be weary.)

NOVJL has notified the 3 families there we know of, but the prosecutors were given only 48 hours notice of the hearing. “Sneaking” a bill through to us means that the advocates are afraid of what opposition will say. They must be afraid they cannot win this debate on its merits, and so have opted to hold hearings and push bills through that will seriously re-traumatize victims families and that they have no knowledge of, or say in.

Victims have RIGHTS in all 50 states and federal law. These rights include the right to be notified of, and heard in, all legal proceedings that affect the sentence of the offenders in their cases.

History of Teen Killer Advocacy in Colorado

Colorado was the first state in the USA to pass legislation ending life without parole sentences for teen killers, but they did it in an appropriate way legally – they ended it only prospectively, that is, for future cases.

Prospective changes in the law do not violate victims rights at least, whether you agree they best serve public safety or not. Many of us believe that life sentences for some of the most serious murders in the nation, even if the offender is 16 or 17, or in rare cases 15, should be available, but not mandatory.

There are 48 cases of teens reportedly sentenced to life without parole for truly horrific crimes still serving their duly earned life sentences. It is a rarely given sentence. Many teens that commit violent felonies, even murder, are not charged as adults and are not serving long sentences in Colorado. Prosecutors exhibit significant discretion in charging these cases and reserve life sentences only for the most heinous.

Since retroactive changes in the law entirely violate victims rights and probably are unconsitutional as well, the legislation passed there also created a special juvenile lifer clemency commission to examine the current 48 cases to see if any of them might merit a sentencing reduction for a possible over-sentencing originally.

Victims Wishes

The Pendulum Foundation, the ACLU, and other advocates testifying for HB 1287, also told emotionally charged stories of incarcerated offenders who had turned their lives around behind bars and said how they deserved a chance for redemption. They wore stickers that read “Hope”. Some offender family members sobbed uncontrollably, in contrast to the stereotype that its always the victims families that are “too emotional”. No one listening could not help but feel tremendous compassion for both “sides”.

The “hope” they have is for release from prison of those who committed murder. Our “hope” is for some legal finality in our cases, that one day the offenders who imposed themselves so destructively into our lives will finally -one day- be something we do not have to be constantly thinking about and dealing with.

Tragedy pervades every aspect of this issue. Always has – we know this. No matter what position you take.

Our advice to advocates against JLWOP:

1. Turn your work towards using the special clemency review that these 48 cases get every three years to get relief for the most clearly rehabilitated offenders.
2. A good case was made in these hearings that the felony murder statutes may need reforming in Colorado. Get to work on that.
3. Never ever again try to have this conversation without all the victims families being treated in a way that fully respects each and every one of their rights as victims of crime and their strong emotional need to be heard and included, not to mention their right to some legal finality in their cases. You all now have some “fence-mending” to do with the victims community and specifically the victims whose rights you violated with this hearing.

Our question for supporters of HB 1287: The hearing showed great compassion for those who committed horrible crimes as youth, something you acknowledged over and over at the hearings. Yet you made the conscious decision to not show the same compassion for the victims families left behind in these heinous crimes. How can you have so much compassion for killers but not for their victims? We really want to know.

Stopping HB 1287

Download the letter we sent to Colorado Legislators in opposition to hearings being held on this bill without victim notification.

The Pendulum Foundation and the other advocates for HB 1287 must cease ALL forward motion on this bill until they have found and notified the victims families of these cases that they are proposing to retroactively change.

Our challenge to the advocates in Colorado at the Pendulum Foundation and other supporters of HB 1287:

What are you afraid of? The truth of these crimes? The true stories of the victims? If your bill has merit, it should win on the merits. If you cannot win a public policy debate with all the stakeholders at the table, and all victims rights respected, then you do not deserve to pass this bill.

See our Offender Pages in Colorado for a complete list of ALL of these teen killers sentenced to life and how they murdered their victims.

Read the Heritage Foundation’s Blog on proposed legislation in Colorado:

Justice Under Siege in Colorado

March 29th, 2011


For at least the past five years, anti-incarceration activists, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Human Rights Watch (HRW), and Amnesty International (AI), have been waging a disinformation campaign designed to free juvenile killers from prison. The latest battleground is Colorado where the Grand Junction Sentinel reports: “Three state lawmakers are hoping to overturn the life sentences of 48 juveniles who were tried as adults and convicted of murder. The bill, which is to be heard in a House committee this week, would allow those juveniles, who are now adults, to become eligible for parole after they’ve served 40 years of their life terms.”

Retroactively throwing out valid life convictions is terrible public policy. Worse it feeds a movement that spreads false statistics and misleading legal claims. For example, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch partnered in 2005 to co-author a bogus “study” that, among other misstatements, asserted that there were 2,225 juvenile felons serving juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) sentences in the United States. This statistic has since been repeated many times by the media and lawmakers. The problem is, it is just not true.

In a report titled Adult Time for Adult Crimes: Life Without Parole for Juvenile Killers Heritage Foundation Senior Legal Fellow Cully Stimson details how Amnesty International/Human Rights Watch manufactured this claim:

The Department of Justice does not collect or have these statistics. State departments of correction often “lose” juveniles once they are tried in adult court and do not keep JLWOP statistics in a uniform or reliable manner. Worst of all, the AI/HRW report included 18- and 19-year-olds as “juveniles,” and its statistical assumptions were fatally flawed. Deep in their “study,” and stripped of manufactured statistics and bogus assumptions, the AI/HRW admits that they could only verify 1,291 actual juvenile offenders serving JWLOP in the United States. The bottom line: Since the states don’t know exactly how many juveniles are serving LWOP, no organization can state how many juveniles are serving JLWOP.

Last year in their Graham v. Florida decision, the Supreme Court by implication adopted The Heritage Foundation’s statistics and soundly rejected the manufactured statistics of the  activist groups. The Court also held that upheld the constitutionality of JLWOP for killers.

The Sentinel reports on one of the killers activists are trying to set free:

As a case in point, [Mesa County District Attorney Pete] Hautzinger pointed to the 1996 murders of Janet and Jennifer Davis, the only Mesa County case among the 48.

That was when Verle James Mangum, then 17 and high on methamphetamine, bludgeoned 42-year-old Janet Davis with a baseball bat when she caught him having sex with her 11-year-old daughter, Jennifer.

“Then he goes back into the bedroom and bludgeons the 11-year-old to death because she might be a witness against him,” Hautzinger said. “That’s not somebody I’d want out after 40 years regardless of how old he is.”

This legislation has moved through the Colorado legislature at a lightning pace which has not afforded any of the victims families an opportunity to be heard. Not only is this morally questionable, but it might even be a violation of the Colorado Constitution.


Colorado leaves youth sentences intact


KRISTEN WYATT, Associated Press
Updated 10:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 29, 2011


  • State Representatives BJ Nikkel, left, R-Loveland and  Claire Levy, D-Boulder testify before the House Judicary Committee on the Bill that they sponsored on Tuesday, March 29, 2011. The bill would allow parole for at least 45 prisoners who received life sentences as juveniles. Photo: Ed Andrieski / AP
    State Representatives BJ Nikkel, left, R-Loveland and Claire Levy, D-Boulder testify before the House Judicary Committee on the Bill that they sponsored on Tuesday, March 29, 2011. The bill would allow parole for at least 45 prisoners who received life sentences as juveniles. Photo: Ed Andrieski / AP
    State Representatives BJ Nikkel, left, R-Loveland and Claire Levy,…



DENVER (AP) — Nearly 50 teen killers sentenced to life without parole in Colorado were denied the possibility of release Tuesday by a legislative committee that heard hours of tearful testimony from victims’ relatives opposed to the change.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 6-5 to reject a bill allowing the possibility of parole after 40 years for people who committed murder as juveniles. Colorado removed sentences without parole for juvenile killers in 2006, but there are 48 people serving life without parole who were sentenced between 1991 and 2006.

The bill rejected Tuesday would have retroactively allowed them parole.

The vote came after hours of emotional testimony from victims’ relatives.

“It’s wrong. It’s dead wrong,” said a tearful Richard Castor, whose 76-year-old mother, Barbara Castor, froze to death in 1996 after two teen boys kidnapped her, tied her up and left her outside after she offered them a ride because they had car trouble.

“We were promised at that time that they were going to be locked up for life,” Castor said. “You’re making a liar out of the state of Colorado.”

Lawmakers questioned whether they even had the ability to make the change. When life sentences without parole for minors were ended in 2006, lawmakers declined to make the change retroactive.

“The Colorado constitution prohibits any law that looks back,” said deputy attorney general Michael Dougherty.

There was emotional testimony on the other side, too. Relatives of juveniles now serving life sentences without the chance of parole, and even the mother of a son killed by a teen now in prison for life, pleaded with lawmakers to give teen killers a second chance after 40 years.

“To lock up a 17-year-old and literally throw away the key is the equivalent of condemning one’s soul to hell on earth,” said the Rev. Patrick Demmer, a member of the Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance.

Lawmakers also heard a tearful plea from Jennifer Jones, whose brother, Trevor, was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole in the 1990s.

“The 32-year-old Trevor Jones is not the same person who went to prison,” she said.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that it is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment to lock up teenagers for life without any chance of parole — for any crime other than murder.

That ruling did not affect the 48 people in question in Colorado, all of whom were convicted of murder.

Colorado lawmakers grappled with the retroactive question for several hours. They rejected the bill, but also left open the possibility to revisit the question this term.

“I can’t remember a bill I struggled with as much as this one,” said Rep. Daniel Kagan, an Englewood Democrat who voted for the change.
Read more:

Our comment to this news story:

We are the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Lifers ( “hours of tearful testimony” were not primarily from the victims families. Only two of them could be found with the 48 hours notice given to them by the offender advocates who have been planning this sneak attack bill for over a year. The only tears in open testimony came from pleading relatives of the 48 convicted murderers serving life without the possibility of parole in the Colorado Department of Corrections for committing exceptionally heinous crimes with complete intentionality. It is wrong to stereotype the very concerned but composed victims families as the “emotional” ones. The families of all 48 offenders’ victims should have been there (its their right under the Colorado Constitution) but were not invited by Rep. Levy, or informed in a timely manner. Conscientious District Attorneys scrambled to do their best. Misinformation given about brain development science was refuted. The frontal lobe does not control criminal intent or all behavior. Neuroscience legal experts have renounced the argument offender advocates advanced in their attempt to diminish culpability for these crimes. And while we ALL know that the younger the person, the more “slack” we cut them, that does happen already in Colorado, extensively. The courts of Colorado looked carefully at these cases and found exceptional culpability and horrific intent in just these 48 cases. In the final vote on HB 1287, committee members were swayed by the facts of the cases, just as the courts were. The issue at the hearing was not just the despicable denial of devastated victims families their right to have a voice in this public policy debate. Or the illegal attempt to have the legislature retroactively undo something that only the Governor has constitutional power to touch. The biggest issue was not addressed at all in the hearings. The question is ultimately this: Is life in prison, where offenders can still be educated and have family relationships, and can still do good, if they so choose, in the world even from behind bars . . .is life in prison a fair PUNISHMENT for someone who knowingly forms criminal intent to murder, and then brutally carries it out. These crimes were not impulsive. They were planned. The offenders were not mentally ill. They knew what they were doing. They murdered police officers, a baby, elderly women, their own parents, sexually assault young women.