DENVER — Jennifer Jones is on a mission to free her brother. In 1996, her 17-year-old brother Trevor Jones was convicted of murdering his 16-year-old friend Matthew Foley.
Under Colorado law, Jones was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In 2006, Colorado abolished the practice of sentencing juveniles to life, but Jones’ sentence remained unchanged.
“It was very painful for me, it destroyed my family,” Jennifer Jones said. “I became a public defender because that’s not fair.”
Jones joined other families at the Capitol on Wednesday for an emotionally charged hearing regarding whether juvenile offenders such as Jones should be resentenced — and given the opportunity to one day be free.
It’s estimated 47 offenders would be impacted. SB 181 would allow parole after 40 years and in some cases reduced resentences of 30 to 50 years.
The measure is facing stiff opposition. The Denver Post editorial board called it “too lenient” and many victims’ families want nothing to do with it.
Matthew Foley was the 16-year-old killed by Jones. His family pleaded with lawmakers to not let his killer walk.
“My aunt has to drive to the cemetery to see her son who was 16 years old when he was murdered,” Foley’s cousin said.
“If you look at the history of Colorado some of the most hideous crimes were committed by juveniles,” Foley’s uncle testified during the hearing.
The measure is receiving bipartisan support and the sponsors said while several amendments are expected, it should pass.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled lifetime sentences for juveniles are in most cases unconstitutional.