TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - The Florida Senate's budget panel has cleared a bill that would prevent automatic life sentences to teenage killers.
The Appropriations committee advanced the bill (SB 1350) on Tuesday. It will next be considered by the full Senate. A similar bill is in the House.
The bill conforms state law to U.S. Supreme Court decisions. It allows for a mandatory sentence of no less than 50 years after a judge considers a juvenile offender's age and maturity at the time of the crime. A judge still could order a life sentence.
Democratic Sen. Arthenia Joyner of Tampa said 50 years is too long. But her amendment to reduce the minimum sentence to 30 years was voted down. Other critics said the bill is likely unconstitutional.
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