ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Governor Larry Hogan on Thursday vetoed SB494, which would have prohibited life sentences for juveniles who had been charged as adults.
“Senate Bill 494, however, pertains to juveniles who have committed crimes so heinous that they are automatically charged as adults, including first degree murder, first degree rape, first degree sex offense, manslaughter, and certain offenses with firearms," said Hogan. "These are serious crimes that require the most serious of consequences, which is why a judge or jury sentences the individual to a lengthy determinate sentence, life imprisonment, or life imprisonment without parole."
The Governor said he is a believer in second chances and the idea that juveniles are capable of rehabilitation, citing his signing of the 2016 Justice Reinvestment Act, which he says holds offenders and government agencies accountable.
Hogan also referenced his granting of 7 paroles, 2 medical paroles, and 4 commutations for juveniles sentenced to life, while in office.
The Governor called the legislator's claim that the bill followed in the footsteps of half the country, misleading.
“The claim made by this legislation’s supporters that 24 other states have adopted similar measures is misleading at best. These jurisdictions have simply eliminated the imposition of life without parole for juveniles."
Hogan believes the bill could have potentially harmed the victims of such crimes.
“This measure would further contribute to the retraumatization of the victims of these heinous crimes. Defendants have multiple avenues for relief as it pertains to challenging their conviction and sentence, but victims and their families have none."
Additionally, the bill would have allowed courts to reconsider the sentence of juveniles who have spent a minimum of 20 years in prison.
"In many cases, the state already has procedures to carefully consider the release of incarcerated individuals—the Maryland Parole Commission and the executive commutation process," said Hogan.
Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby celebrated the initial passing of the bill for which she lobbied two years.
More than half of the State's Attorney's in Maryland's 24 jurisdictions however opposed the bill including;
- Anne Arundel County
- Baltimore County
- Calvert County
- Caroline County
- Carroll County
- Cecil County
- Dorchester County
- Frederick County
- Garrett County
- Harford County
- Montgomery County
- Queen Anne’s County
- St. Mary’s County
- Wicomico County