More than half of all states have banned juvenile life without parole

Minnesota bans juvenile life without parole


Minnesota becomes the 28th state to ban juvenile life without parole

May 19, 2023 – Today, in a critical advancement for the state of Minnesota and for the national youth sentencing reform movement, an omnibus public safety bill (SF 2909) was signed by Governor Walz after passing through the Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives. Among other reforms, SF 2909 prohibits children from being sentenced to life without the possibility of parole and grants resentencing and release eligibility to people who were under the age of 18 at the time of their offense. Minnesota is the 28th state in the country (in addition to the District of Columbia) to abolish this barbaric practice. Ninety-seven people in Minnesota are serving sentences of 15 or more years for offenses committed as children, and in most cases will now be eligible for a sentencing review. 

In 2012, only three states in total had banned juvenile life without parole (JLWOP). In 2023 alone, three states have already ended the practice of sentencing children to die in prison. As Illinois, New Mexico, and now Minnesota join the growing majority of state legislatures turning away from extreme sentencing, thirty-four states now either ban JLWOP or have no one serving the sentence.    


Through the leadership of bill sponsors and supporters, particularly Rep. Sandra Feist and Sen. Ron Latz, Minnesota has declared that we must never give up on hope for any child. “We’ve seen an incredible uptick in state legislatures banning life without parole for kids, and until now, Minnesota has been out of step with that national trend toward youth sentencing reform,” says Preston Shipp, the CFSY’s Senior Policy Counsel. “Children must be held accountable for their actions, but because they are fundamentally different from adults in their ability to assess risk and consequences, and their unique capacity for change, they should be held accountable in age-appropriate ways with a focus on rehabilitation and reintegration into society.”

“Many people serving extreme sentences as children will now have a chance to show the world who they’ve become, “ says Xavier McElrath-Bey, Co-Executive Director of the CFSY. “No child in Minnesota’s legal system will ever have to live without hope.

For more information, or if you would like to arrange an interview, please contact Adam Kemerer at | 412-728-2340.

The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth is a nonprofit that leads efforts to ban life-without-parole and other extreme sentences for children, and supports those incarcerated as children who are released after serving long sentences.