PHOENIX, AZ (July 30, 2012) – Convicted murderers will now be required to serve longer prison sentences for certain first and second degree murder convictions thanks to changes to state sentencing statutes enacted in Arizona’s last legislative session. HB 2373, also known as “Life Means Life,” increases the maximum sentence for second degree murder and eliminates the possibility of early release for those convicted of premeditated first degree murder or first degree murder of a law enforcement officer. Supporters of the bill attended a ceremonial signing by Governor Janice K. Brewer at the State Capitol this morning.
“Victims of crime in Arizona have a constitutional right to a final conclusion of a case after a sentence. Permitting a convicted first degree premeditated murderer to seek release even after 25 years betrays the guarantee of finality,” remarked Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who attended today’s signing ceremony. “These changes to our sentencing laws will go a long way toward honoring the rights of victims of crime and safeguarding society from those who commit the worst of crimes.”
Sponsored by Representative Eddie Farnsworth (R – District 22), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, HB 2373 increases the maximum sentence for second degree murder and from 22 to 25 calendar years and from 25 to 29 calendar years if aggravating circumstances are proven. The legislation also mandates a sentence of death or natural life for adults convicted of first degree premeditated murder or first degree murder of a police officer, thereby eliminating the possibility of release from confinement.