The Denver Post published a piece by Jessica Peck Corry yesterday called A Teen’s Crime, A Lifetime to Pay, and I was fascinated by the comments. Erik Jensen is one of an estimated 60 percent of the juveniles sentenced to life without parole in Colorado since 1998 who are there because of a felony murder conviction. The felony murder rule makes any participant in a felony criminally responsible for deaths that occur during the commission of the underlying crime. Erik participated in covering up the commission of the murder of Nathan Ybanez’s mother, but did not participate in her murder.
Felony murder, at the time of Erik’s crime meant an automatic sentenced of Life Without the Possibility of Parole, or LWOP. Although the state overturned the mandatory LWOP sentence in 2006, the change was not made retroactive to include the 48 people who were already serving the sentence.
I hope that this site and this post might attract those with an understanding of sentencing law, because I am unable to understand how a sentence that was determined to be inappropriate, could be held up for those already serving it.
Please comment if you have thoughts on this.