The Hawaii Legislature has voted to abolish juvenile life without parole, bringing the state in line with most of the rest of the world!

In HB 2116 CD1, which has been sent to Gov. Neil Abercrombie for his signature, legislators note that children are “constitutionally different” from adults. Specifically, the bill mentions that children are more vulnerable to pressure from peers and adults and are less able to remove themselves from difficult environments. It further notes that children possess a unique capacity for change and that most kids grow out of criminal behavior.

The bill points to research about juvenile brain development and acknowledges that youthfulness lessens moral culpability. It also notes that the United States is the only country in the world that imposes this sentence upon our children. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has barred the use of life without parole sentences for youth.

Under existing Hawaii law, once individuals become eligible for parole, they are entitled to review every 12 months. They are also entitled to counsel and there is a presumption in favor of parole if they have been ‘assessed’ as having a low likelihood of reoffending.

Hawaii prosecutors supported the passage of the bill.

Read the bill 

Read our press release