Published on: Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Maryland passed a law ending the practice of sentencing juveniles to life without parole on Saturday.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) vetoed the Juvenile Restoration Act bill (Senate Bill 494) (along with several other pieces of police reform legislation), but the Democrat-controlled General Assembly overrode the veto. When the law takes effect in October, people sentenced to life without parole as juveniles will be able to petition a judge for release after serving 20 years. Maryland became the 25th state, in addition to Washington, D.C., to bar these sentences.

In Maryland, the overwhelming majority of children tried as adults are Black, according to the state’s racial impact analysis of SB 494. From July to December 2019, more than 80 percent of the 459 children charged as adults were Black. 

The United States is the only known country that sentences children to life without the possibility of parole, according to the Sentencing Project. At the start of 2020, approximately 1,400 people were serving life without the possibility of parole for crimes that occurred when they were children.