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John Legend speaks out for juvenile justice bill

A bill proposed in the Ohio house would stop minors from facing life in prison. (WSYX/WTTE)

A bill on juvenile justice in the Ohio House received some support from one of the most famous people from Ohio Tuesday. Musician John Legend tweeted his support for a bill to stop minors from receiving life prison sentences.

Legend said in an op-ed in the Columbus Dispatch there are 20 states in the country as well as the District of Columbia which have abolished life sentences for minors. He said his home state of Ohio isn't on that list though.

"We were pleasantly surprised that he tweeted about it today," said Rep. Jeff Rezabek, R - Clayton, the sponsor of the bill.

Rezabek said he's met people who received 70-year prison sentences at the age of 14. Rezabek's bill would allow a minor sentenced to prison to eventually go in front of a parole board to state their case for they deserve to be freed.

"We're not discounting the seriousness of those charges but we want them to have the opportunity," he said. "You as a young individual made some bad decisions but that through your time of incarceration you've now made the right decisions."

Legend said sentencing minors to life in prison was considered to be inhumane around the rest of the world. He said the stiff sentences for minors affects black children ten times more often than white ones. He said he felt no child was beyond redemption.

Rezabek said the bill would likely receive a vote on the House floor by the end of June. He said several senators already told him they would support it. He said he's hopeful it could pass both chambers by this fall.


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