Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Supreme Court Takes up New Cases on Juvenile Life Without Parole

The US Supreme Court has agreed to take up two new cases in which young juveniles (age 14) were involved in crimes that led to a life without parole sentence. Recall that through prior cases (Graham v. Florida, Roper v. Simmons) the court has ruled that offenders under the age of 18 cannot be executed and that youth under 18 in non-homicide cases should not be subject to life without parole. Some have interpreted the more recent decision to imply that life without parole for a youth at any age involved in a homicide is acceptable constitutionally, but the language of these decisions was not as conclusive, leaving open the possibility that there are other distinctions courts should make based on age, development, and culpability in a particular offense. After all, could the Supreme Court actually rule that someone as young as 10 or 11 or 12 – or in these cases as well as the Wisconsin v. Ninham case age 14 – should be subject to a life without parole sentence?

There is an excellent summary of these cases and the issues involved through the State Bar of Wisconsin – nice job by Joe Forward!                                                                                 by Jim Moeser, WCCF

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