The Supreme Court today refused to review a 30-year prison sentence for a teen who was 12 when he killed his grandparents in South Carolina, reports the Associated Press. Christopher Pittman wanted the justices to examine whether the long prison term violates the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. With no possibility of parole, he will be 42 before he is released.
South Carolina contended the punishment is proportionate to the crime and said there is a national trend of increased punishment for young violent criminals. Each year about 200,000 defendants under 18 are treated as adults, says the National Center for Juvenile Justice. Many states automatically define young defendants as adults because of their age or offense. Those numbers escalated in the 1990s as juvenile crime soared and 48 states made it easier to transfer children into criminal court.