Advocates Await Court Ruling On Juvenile Lifers


Civil-rights advocates are cautiously optimistic that the days of sentencing juveniles to life in prison with no chance of parole could soon end, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The U.S. Supreme Court said this month it would review two cases from Florida in which juvenile offenders claim their life sentences – one for rape, the other for robbery – are unconstitutional. Legal experts cautioned the court could rule in a number of ways, and said some outcomes might not change Pennsylvania’s sentencing guidelines.

But they added that if the court rules life sentences for juveniles are inhumane, the effect on Pennsylvania – which has about 450 juvenile lifers, more than any other state – could be huge. The United States and Israel are the only countries that sentence juveniles to life in prison without parole, according to the 2008 report “Sentencing Our Children to Die in Prison,” a study released by the University of San Francisco’s Center for Law and Global Justice. In the United States there were 2,381 juvenile lifers; Israel had seven.

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