Connecticut passed legislation in 2015 that retroactively eliminates life-without parole sentences for juveniles.

S.B. 796, Jan. Sess. (Conn. 2015) (amending Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 54-125a, 46b-127, 46b-133c, 46b-133d, 53a-46a, 53a-54b, 53a-54d, 53a-54a and enacting new sections).

New Parole Rules for Juveniles:  The statute applies to juvenile offenders currently serving sentences of more than 10 years, and provides that juveniles are eligible for parole after serving 60% of the sentence, or 12 years, whichever is greater.  Those serving more than 50 years are eligible for parole after 30 years. The parole board must apply special criteria in considering juvenile cases.  A year before the parole hearing, counsel will be appointed for indigent prisoners to help them prepare for the hearing.

New Rules for Sentencing Juveniles in Adult Court:  When sentencing juveniles transferred to adult court and convicted of serious felonies, courts must consider “the defendant’s age at the time of the offense, the hallmark features of adolescence, and any scientific and psychological evidence showing the differences between a child’s brain development and an adult’s brain development.”  The probation office “shall compile reference materials relating to adolescent psychological and brain development to assist courts in sentencing children” and must include information relating to youth-related factors in the presentence report.  Under the statute, juveniles may no longer be convicted of the most serious offenses in Connecticut, which carry mandatory life-without-parole sentences.  Instead, the most serious offense for juveniles now is murder, which carries now for juveniles a minimum sentence of 25 years (with parole eligibility after 15 years) and a maximum sentence of 60 years (with parole eligibility after 30 years).