Travion Blount’s punishment may be the harshest in the U.S. for a teen who didn’t commit murder, reports the Virginian-Pilot. The 15-year-old robbed a party with two older gang members. He hurt no one. His friends got 10 and 13 years. As it stands, Blount will die in prison. He was found guilty of 49 charges, and a judge added up the mandatory punishments and came to 118 years plus six life terms.
The Virginian-Pilot says Blount’s case, and others like it, are forcing judges and lawmakers to ask: Can a young criminal life be redeemed? Blount's advocates argue his six life sentences for an armed robbery violates the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment. “Nobody's asking to let him out tomorrow,” said his attorney, John Coggeshall. He wants a new sentence for his client, comparable to the codefendants'. The older defendants, who led the robbery, pleaded guilty and got just 13 and 10 years in prison. The Virginia Supreme Court turned down Blount's appeal. The court ruled in an earlier case that teen offenders with life terms have a meaningful option to leave prison: geriatric release.