Gov. Terry Branstad today took action to prevent the release of dangerous murders in light of the recent Miller v. Alabama United States Supreme Court decision, where they ruled that states cannot mandate life sentences without the possibility of parole for murderers who committed their crimes before the age of eighteen.
The court's ruling means that up to 38 dangerous juvenile murderers in Iowa will seek resentencing and more lenient sentences.
"During this process, the victims are all too often forgotten by our justice system, and are forced to re-live the pain of the tragedies," said Branstad. "These victims have had their loved ones violently taken away from them. I take this action today to protect these victims, their loved ones' memories, and to protect the safety of all Iowans."
In compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Gov. Branstad will commute the life without parole sentences today to life with the possibility parole only after 60 years for the 38 people who were convicted of First Degree Murder while a juvenile.
This action means that they will not have the possibility of parole until they have served 60 years.
"Justice is a balance and these commutations ensure that justice is balanced with punishment for those vicious crimes and taking into account public safety," said Branstad. "First degree murder is an intentional and premeditated crime and those who are found guilty are dangerous and should be kept off the streets and out of our communities."
"Today Governor Branstad and I want to ensure that justice is served, Iowans are protected, and victims are heard," said Reynolds. "The governor's action today gives the opportunity for parole in compliance with the recent Supreme Court decision; however, the action also protects victims from having to be re-victimized each year by worrying about whether the Parole Board will release the murderer who killed their loved one."