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Supreme Court Rules Juvenile Life Sentences Unconstitutional
Jun 25, 2012 | News Archive
Supreme Court Rules Juvenile Life Sentences Unconstitutional

Today the Supreme Court announced it's decision regarding juveniles and there inability to no longer be sentenced to life without parole. Read more for details.

Supreme Court Rules Juvenile Life Sentences Unconstitutional

 

In a recent 5-4 decision, The Supreme Court ruled that the use of life sentences for murderers under the age of 18 is defined as cruel and unconstitutional which therefore means no more mandatory life sentences without parole on Juveniles even if convicted.. This ruling does not give rise to freeing the estimated 2,500 underage criminals who were convicted previously and serving life sentences, but rather acts as a precedent for future trials amongst underage criminals.

The two cases that the Supreme Court was initially hearing involving juvenile life imprisonment were Jackson v. Hobbs, No. 10-9647 and Miller v. Alabama, No. 10-9646.  In the case of Jackson v. Hobbs, 14 year old Kuntrell Jackson along with two other adolescents who were older than him, tried to rob a video game store that resulted in the death of a store clerk. According to Arkansas law, prosecutors were given discretion to charge a 14 year old as an adult in certain cases. As a result of this, Kuntrell Jackson was sentenced to life without parole In the case of Miller v. Alabama, Evan Miller, another 14 year old at the time of the incident had beaten a 52 year old neighbor and had set fire to his house after the three allegedly just got done smoking marijuana and drinking. Unfortunately, the neighbor died of smoke inhalation. Evan Miller too was sentenced to life without parole.

According to a recent article from the [i]nytimes, Justice Kagan’s opinion on the subject matter of Juvenile life imprisonment was that it violated “the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.” Being as though the United States is considered a progressive country that leads the race amongst human rights, many critics believe that this is a decision that should have been enforced.  Chief Justice John G Roberts Jr. added in his opinion in his dissent that “As judges, we have no basis for deciding that progress toward greater decency can move only in the direction of easing sanctions on the guilty.” Many critics believe that this is unfair and that if one does the crime, they should do the time and others on the other hand have mixed emotions on the subject. Whether or not the United States Supreme Court made the best decision is only measurable through future endeavors of the ever changing judicial system.

-By: Eric Turner

 



[i] Nytimes website:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/26/us/justices-bar-mandatory-life-sentences-for-juveniles.html

Posted By: Eric Turner

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