FARGO, N.D. — There’s an ongoing national debate on life-without-parole sentences for juveniles, but it’s no longer an issue in North Dakota.
Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions regarding life sentences for juveniles led state lawmakers to pass a bill this year banning life sentences without the possibility of parole for those under 18. It provides a chance for release to offenders who as juveniles were convicted of crimes such as murder and sexual assault resulting in injury. Offenders can petition for a judicial sentencing review after 20 years in prison.
North Dakota has one inmate who was sentenced to life without parole as a juvenile. Barry Garcia was 17 when he was convicted of shooting and killing a West Fargo woman. A Fargo judge in January rejected Garcia’s appeal requesting a second chance.