Top Court Revamps Life Sentence Rules for Underage Criminals
Posted on May 17, 2010
The U.S. Supreme Court changed the future fortunes of minors accused of less severe crimes than murder on Monday, ruling in a 6-3 decision that doling out life sentences with no chance of parole in those cases would amount to cruel and unusual punishment. —KA
Los Angeles Times:
In a 6-3 decision, the court struck down the laws in Florida and 36 other states which permit life prison terms for criminals who were under age 18 at the time of their crimes. Currently, 129 prisoners are serving such terms nationwide, and 77 of them are in Florida.
In the past, the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment has been used mostly to limit use of the death penalty. The justices have been wary of limiting prison terms.
But Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, speaking for the court, said a life prison term with no chance for parole is too extreme for a juvenile criminal whose offenses involve robbery or assault.