High Court Hears Teen Life Without Parole Case Nov. 9


The pendng Supreme Court case on whether life-without-parole sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional is likely to be a cardinal criminal justice decision for the court this term, says the Washington Post. Those challenging the sentences are optimistic because of what Justice Anthony Kennedy’s said in a 2005 case: “The reality that juveniles still struggle to define their identity means it is less supportable to conclude that even a heinous crime committed by a juvenile is evidence of irretrievably depraved character. [] It would be misguided to equate the failings of a minor with those of an adult, for a greater possibility exists that a minor’s character deficiencies will be reformed.”

Only two 13-year-olds have been sentenced to life without parole for crimes that were not homicides, and both are in Florida. The state told the court that states are within their rights to lock up forever those thought to pose a perpetual threat to society. There is no consensus against life sentences for juveniles, particularly for heinous crimes such as sexual battery,” Florida Solicitor General Scott Makar wrote. The Post reviewed contents of briefs filed in the case, which will be argued Nov. 9.

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