U.S. Supreme Court

Is ban on mandatory life sentences for juveniles retroactive? SCOTUS to decide

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Young teen in handcuffs

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The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide whether a 2012 decision banning mandatory life sentences for juveniles has a retroactive reach.

The court agreed to hear the case of George Toca, who accidentally shot and killed an accomplice during a botched armed robbery in 1984, report the New York Times, SCOTUSblog and the Washington Post. Toca “was barely 17 years old when he was arrested,” his cert petition says. He was sentenced under a Louisiana law imposing a mandatory a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama in 2012 that mandatory life sentences without parole are unconstitutional for juveniles. The court said individual characteristics of the youths must be taken into account. At issue is whether the decision announced a substantive rule that must apply retroactively, or a procedural rule not available to those already sentenced, the Post says.

The case is Toca v. Louisiana.

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