Juvenile offenders now will face the tough guidelines used for adults sentenced for the same kinds of crimes to determine whether they will be granted parole, the U.S. Parole Commission says.
The commission, breaking a tradition of leniency toward juveniles, announced Wednesday it is abolishing the parole guidelines for youths, in effect since 1973, and will subject young offenders, especially those who commit the most serious crimes, to the same parole guidelines as adults.
Echoing Attorney General Edwin Meese III's get-tough policy on crime, commission Chairman Benjamin Baer said the consolidation "means that guidelines for youth offenders who have committed the more serious and violent crimes have been raised to increase time served in prison."
The National Center on Institutions and Alternatives, however, said the move "infringes on some constitutional protections" for youths.
Leonard Berman, the center's program director, said a juvenile "is more able to be rehabilitated and should get more attention on those grounds."
The new parole guidelines, effective Nov. 4, also lessen the prison time required for less serious offenders, who are considered better parole risks, but boost the time for prison escapees, those who use drugs in prison or parole violators, a commission report said.