Governor Signs Sen. Smith’s Life without Parole Bill

ATLANTA (April 29, 2009) – Governor Sonny Perdue today signed Sen. Preston Smith’s (R-Rome) legislation (SB 13) to expand sentencing options in murder cases. Prosecutors will now have the option to seek sentences of life imprisonment without parole in non-death penalty cases.

“With the Governor’s signature, this bill will ensure that Georgia’s judicial system can operate effectively by giving prosecutors the tools to seek appropriate sentences,” said Smith. “Georgia is a state that stands for the justice of victims and their families, who can now be assured that convicted murderers will not needlessly be set free.”

Under current law, in a non-death penalty case, the only available sentencing option for a court is life with parole upon conviction. A prosecutor must first seek the death penalty in a murder case before they can ask for a life without parole sentence.

Sen. Smith has championed the issue over two legislative sessions, each time with the Senate overwhelmingly voting in favor of the bill. This legislation has been a top priority for district attorneys, as it saves them from having to mount an expensive death penalty trial that can drive up costs over the length of the trial. The measure also received strong support from prosecutors and courts across Georgia.

For more information on the bill, please visit and do a legislative search for SB 13.

Sen. Preston Smith serves as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He represents the 52nd Senate District which includes Floyd County and portions of Bartow and Gordon counties. He may be reached by phone at 404.656.0034 or by e-mail at

For Immediate Release:
April 29, 2009
For Information Contact:
Raegan Weber, Director
Kallarin Richards, Senior Communications Specialist