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.

S, age 24, serving a life sentence without parole for a homicide committed at age 16.

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.

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2 thoughts on “SCOTUS rules against mandatory Juvenile Life Without Parole

  1. I was in the Alabama DOC and I met many like S. I was there when the Miller ruling came in. However, Troy KING the Attorney General tried to over rule the SCOTUS ruling. He also tried to wait until the kid reached 18 to get an adult status on him. The EX POST FACTO clause is violated all the time as I know first hand in Alabama. Here is another S. could try EQUAL TREATMENT OF THE LAW applies also to equal sentencing for the same crime. A friend got a life sentence, because he did not take a plea and went to trail. His brother and 2 friends got less than 20 tears for the murder and my friend was not the one who killed the other boy. The US Constitution and the Supremacy of SCOTUS must be upheld by all courts in the USA. S. keep your head up and good luck. Rex

  2. S. I forgot to add that for some reason the courts think LWOP is better than a death sentence. My friends with that sentence told me that at least with a death sentence they had lawyers appointed to work on their cases. LWOP does not entitle someone with a law degree to help you. If you could point this out as also being discrimination on part of the law then you can petition the court for an attorney to be assigned to your case. Some of my friends gave up because they could pay the price either for a real attorney or a JHL (Jail House Lawyer). LWOP is sometime worst than death, but if you stay focused and not give in to what inmates say or more important want to do then you can get help. Good luck. Rex

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