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House passes juvenile life sentencing bill

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida House has passed a bill that re-works mandatory life sentences for juveniles, bringing state law closer to the United States Supreme Court ruling banning such sentences.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled states cannot impose life-without-parole sentences on juveniles, leaving Florida law in need of an update.

The House passed the bill (HB 7035), sponsored by James Grant, R-Tampa, 117-0 on Tuesday. The accompanying Senate bill is on the calendar for Thursday.

The House bill allows for varying sentences and a judicial hearing depending on the crime.

The U.S. Supreme Court has acknowledged that juvenile brains are still developing, and they deserve an opportunity for rehabilitation. The bill excludes a review for murder defendants who previously committed serious crimes.