Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Supreme Court Bars Mandatory Life Sentences for Juveniles

In a 5 to 4 decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that automatically sentencing juveniles to life in prison without the possibility of parole violates the Constitutions prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.  On September 8, 2011 we reported that the Supreme Court ruled that juveniles convicted of first degree murder may be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.  In 2005 the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty for juveniles convicted of murder was unconstitutional and in 2010 ruled that sentencing a juvenile to life in prison for a non-violent offense was unconstitutional.  On March 19, 2012, we reported that the Supreme Court was hearing oral arguments on the case that was decided yesterday.  While the court did not foreclosure the possibility of a juvenile being sentenced to life in prison, it found that automatically sentencing a juvenile to life in prison, robbed the court of the ability to take all possible mitigating factor into consideration the juveniles life and their involvement in the crime before sentencing them to life in prison.  The majority opinion was written by Justice Elena Kagan.  She stated that juveniles should not be punishment as harshly as adults because they are less culpable for their crimes than adults and have a greater chance of rehabilitation.  In addition, the juvenile's character has not yet fully formed.  Throughout the country, roughly 2,500 individuals are in prison for life without parole for crimes they committed before they turned 18.  Out of those, roughly 2,000 were sentenced to life in prison under a mandatory sentencing statute.  So the impact of this decision will be of some consequence.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at www.legaldefenderspc.com or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

No comments:

The Legal Defenders, PC

70 West Madison, Ste 1400 * Chicago * IL 60602 * Phone: (800) 228-7295 * Fax: (800) 604-0507