New rules set for sentencing Pennsylvania juveniles to life

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Pennsylvania’s highest court says juveniles should only rarely be sentenced to life without parole, telling prosecutors that such cases require proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is a rare example of someone who can never be rehabilitated.

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled unanimously that there is a legal presumption that life sentences without parole for juveniles are not appropriate, and put the burden on district attorneys to prove individual exceptions are warranted.

The decision sends the case of convicted murderer Qu’eed Batts back county court for what will be his third sentencing.

The 26-year-old Batts is serving life in Coal Township State Prison for a gang-related murder he committed when he was 14 years old.

Pennsylvania prisons have hundreds of lifers who committed their crimes as juveniles.

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