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October 21, 2016

Statement from Chancellor Gaetan J. Alfano on "Juvenile Lifer" Resentencing

In response to the news regarding the position of the Philadelphia District Attorney's office on the resentencing of individuals who were sentenced as children to life in prison without the possibility of parole, Gaetan J. Alfano, Chancellor of the 12,000-member Philadelphia Bar Association today issued the following statement:

"The Philadelphia Bar Association opposes any interpretation of recent U.S. Supreme Court (Miller and Montgomery) and Pennsylvania Supreme Court (Batts) decisions that forecloses individualized resentencing for anyone who, as a child, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. We applaud the recent decision of the Honorable Timothy A. Savage of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, in the recent case of Songster v. Beard, which criticized the current practice of routinely fixing the maximum of each new sentence at life, as not reflecting individualized sentencing required by the Constitution.

"As Justice Kennedy announced in Montgomery, a sentencing scheme that does not allow for discretion 'disregards the possibility of rehabilitation even when the circumstances most suggest it.'

"We in the Philadelphia legal community believe that we must do better."

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