U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court to Decide Constitutionality of Life Sentences for Juveniles in Murder Cases

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The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide a pair of cases that challenge the constitutionality of life sentences for juveniles convicted in slayings committed when they were 14.

The cert petition claims the sentences of life without parole are cruel and unusual punishment, report the Associated Press and Bloomberg News. Lawyers for the youths seek to extend the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Graham v. Florida that held sentences of life in prison without parole are unconstitutional for juveniles who have not been charged with murder.

One of the youths in the new cases accepted by the court, Evan Miller of Alabama, received a life sentence after he and another youth beat a neighbor in 2003 and set fire to his home. The neighbor died of smoke inhalation. In the other case, Kuntrell Jackson of Arkansas was convicted for his part in the robbery and shooting death of a video store clerk in 1999. Jackson has maintained he was the lookout.

The cases are Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Lawyers for Juvenile Lifers Convicted of Murder Urge Supreme Court to Overturn Sentences”

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