Will High Court Extend Youth Life Without Parole Ruling to Murders?


Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that sentencing juvenile offenders to life without the possibility of parole violated the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment for crimes that did not involve killings. The case affected about 130 prisoners convicted of crimes like rape, armed robbery, and kidnapping, says the New York Times.

Now the inevitable follow-up cases are coming. Last month, lawyers for two other prisoners who were 14 when they were involved in murders filed the first petitions urging the justices to extend last year's Graham vs. Florida case to all 13- and 14-year-old offenders. The high court has been whittling away at severe sentences. It has banned the death penalty for juvenile offenders, the mentally disabled, and those convicted of crimes other than murder. The Graham decision for the first time excluded a class of offenders from a punishment other than death. This progression suggests it should not be long until the justices address the question posed in the petitions. An extension of the Graham decision to all juvenile offenders would affect about 2,500 inmates.

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