Supreme court to hear juvenile cases involving sentencing without parole
The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will decide whether hundreds of juvenile offenders sentenced to life in prison without parole deserve a chance to be resentenced.
The court announced it will consider the case of a Louisiana man who said the court’s 2012 decision banning mandatory life sentences for juveniles must be applied retroactively.
The 5-to-4 ruling in Miller v. Alabama said that state laws mandating life in prison without the possibility of parole for those younger than 18 offend the Constitution’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. That decision was part of a trend at the court of treating even the worst juvenile offenders differently from adults.
“Mandatory life without parole for a juvenile precludes consideration of his chronological age and its hallmark features — among them, immaturity, impetuosity, and failure to appreciate risks and consequences,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the 2012 decision. “It prevents taking into account the family and home environment that surrounds him — and from which he cannot usually extricate himself — no matter how brutal or dysfunctional.”
But since that ruling, courts around the country have split on whether the decision applies retroactively.
Most courts recognize the Miller decision as a new “substantive” rule, one that, under the court’s precedents, must be applied to those sentenced before the June 2012 decision.
Other courts say the rule isn’t available to those already sentenced. Those courts said that the Miller decision did not ban life imprisonment without parole but said the sentence could not be mandatory as judges must be able to take other factors into account.
May these young black brothers be given a second chance.
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