Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an historic ruling in Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs holding that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger convicted of homicide are unconstitutional. The ruling will affect hundreds of individuals whose sentences did not take their age or other mitigating factors into account.
Last November, we wrote about a young man, S, facing a life sentence without parole for a homicide committed when he was 16. (also pictured below) In a conversation with him about his crime and his case, he said, “I was sixteen, and it was a series of events—bad peer pressure and alcohol. The oldest of my friends—co-conspirators–was convicted of four counts. He was over 18 at the time so he was convicted as an adult. He has successfully appealed three of the convictions and had them overturned. He’s waiting for the results of the last appeal. I’m the only one out of the four kids involved that received life without parole.” S, now age 24 and serving time in an adult facility, is one of the many individuals who may be affected by this ruling.
Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and a representative in the SCOTUS case stated, “This is an important win for children. The Court took a significant step forward by recognizing the fundamental unfairness of mandatory death-in-prison sentences that don’t allow sentencers to consider the unique status of children and their potential for change. The Court has recognized that children need additional attention and protection in the criminal justice system.”
Thank you and congratulations to Bryan and EJI for all your hard work in achieving this immense victory.
See more at http://www.eji.org/eji/node/646