Boulder Rep. Claire Levy is planning to introduce legislation in March to make retroactive a 2006 law that allows juveniles sentenced to life in prison to be eligible for parole after 40 years.

There currently are 47 prisoners in Colorado -- although none from Boulder County -- who were sentenced as juveniles to life without parole before the new law took effect in 2006, and Levy's bill would give them the chance to go before the parole board after serving 40 years of their sentence.

"I think it's inhumane to sentence a juvenile to essentially die in prison for something they did before they even became an adult," Levy said Wednesday.

Local prosecutors are split on the bill, with Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett in favor of the change and Don Quick, district attorney for Adams and Broomfield counties, opposed.

Quick said he's against the legislation because family members of victims already have sat through court hearings and been told what offenders' sentences will be. Plus, he added, sentences already can be reconsidered via governor's commutation or pardon

"Is it fair to drag them back year after year and have to relive the crime?" Quick said. "The state of Colorado told them that this is the sentence, and this is what you can expect from us."

Garnett, though, said, "I oppose the idea of a juvenile receiving life without parole under any circumstances." Such a penalty is "simply too harsh" for someone under 18, he added.

"It's a matter of fairness and humanity," Garnett said. "We shouldn't be locking up kids and throwing away the key."

Levy's proposed bill also would give juveniles sentenced to 30-plus years in prison the chance to apply to finish their terms in a community corrections program after they served 15 years, Levy said. The idea behind that change, she said, would be to give offenders who eventually will get out of prison the opportunity to ease their way back into society.

"They were incarcerated when they were kids and have never lived outside an institutional setting," she said.

In both cases, the offenders would only have an opportunity to get out of prison early. But it would not be a guarantee, Levy said.

Boulder County doesn't have any juvenile offenders serving life sentences, but there are several who were sentenced to more than 30 years when they were teens who, under the new law, could ask to finish their terms in the community.

Bryan Grove, who at age 17 killed his girlfriend's mother Linda Damm in her Lafayette home, is one such offender. Grove pleaded guilty in 2008 as an adult to second-degree murder for stabbing Damm 18 times in the neck in February 2007. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison and becomes eligible for parole in 2036.

He will have served 15 years of his sentence in 2023.

Leon Gladwell, who beat his grandmother to death with a bicycle fork in January 1998 when he was 17, also could be affected by the chance for early release into community corrections. He pleaded guilty to an adult second-degree murder charge and was sentenced to 48 years in prison.

He becomes eligible for parole in 2017 and will have served 15 years in 2013.

Boulder County's Garnett said he supports the spirit of the portion of the bill that would give juveniles the chance to serve the latter part of their sentence in the community. But, he said, community corrections programs aren't currently set up to handle offenders for longer periods of time.

"I like the concept and agree with the spirit," he said, "but I don't know if it works mechanically."

Read more: Boulder DA backs bill to adjust juvenile life sentences - Boulder Daily Camera http://www.dailycamera.com/boulder-c...#ixzz1DWMbVncU
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