More than six months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Florida’s practice of sending juveniles to prison for the rest of their lives for non-murder crimes was unconstitutional, no former juveniles sentenced in such cases have found much relief, says the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Instead, Florida courts are re-sentencing the juveniles to new terms that still amount to life sentences. Gov. Charlie Crist and the state cabinet are poised to reject the clemency case of Kenneth Young, 15, who received four life sentences for armed robberies.
Crist’s apparent shunning of Young’s request comes at a time when the Florida governor is attracting national headlines for his pledge to seek a pardon for Jim Morrison, of the rock group the Doors, who has been dead for 39 years. Legal experts say there are at least 116 prisoners in Florida like Young – sentenced for non-murder crimes committed when they were juveniles to life in prison without chance for parole. Florida has sentenced far more juveniles to such sentences than all other states combined. In May, the Supreme Court ruled that such sentences violate the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment. As Young’s case illustrates, Florida has done little to right that wrong.