Many juvenile lifers in midstate waiting for re-sentencing despite 2016 ruling

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | May 26, 2017 1:47 PM

(Harrisburg) -- Last year, the US Supreme Court ordered judges to resentence all juveniles who were automatically put behind bars for life without parole.

But in many parts of the midstate, that hasn't happened yet.

Some cases have proceeded, but for the most part, hundreds of people are still waiting for hearings on resentencing.

District attorneys, like Lancaster County's Craig Stedman, point to a juvenile sentencing matter in front of the state Supreme Court.

They say once the court decides the Commonwealth versus Butts case, they'll have guidance to move forward.

But some advocacy groups say prosecutors are trying to delay and delay.

Speaking on WITF's Smart Talk, Stedman says if he acted now, he might face appeals in the future.

"Look, I'm not naive, I've been doing this for a while. I think it's going to be likely you're going to see appeals and say that's a different sentencing scheme than we went under. You can try to have people waive it. That's, of course, a risk as well," says Stedman.

He says he doesn't want to have to increase the pain for a victim's family.

"These are, as you can imagine, the most excruciating conversations you can have with somebody. There's an aspect of just bringing those people along, and it's a lot easier for us to have the conversation when we have the law to show the family and say here's the parameters," he adds.

Stedman says he's trying to be mindful of limited resources.

He says he expects the decision will come by the end of the year.

Some juvenile lifers have already been re-sentenced, despite the concerns of some district attorneys.

Some 400 people sentenced to life without parole as juveniles will be affected by the ruling.

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