As reported by the LA Times on January 25, 2012, the United States Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional to sentence any juvenile tried as an adult who is under 18 to a life sentence behind bars with no chance to be released. The court’s majority (a 5-4 vote) found it to be a “cruel and unusual punishment” under the constitution because our society requires every judge to consider carefully a juvenile’s individual case before making such a decision.
This new ruling invalidates the laws of 28 states in the US that sentence to life imprisonment any individual who is tried as an adult and found guilty of certain serious crimes even if he/she is 14 years old.
This is a great victory for those that believe that juveniles have to be treated differently than adults. Many of these juveniles have been raised without parental supervision, and they come from a life of poverty and abuse. The highest court of our country, lead by the Justice Kennedy who wrote the opinion, decided that kids cannot be locked up for life with no hope of release without having a judge reviewing each case individually.
This decision should make clear to every state legislature not to pass laws without taking into consideration the individual situation of each juvenile when he/she is found guilty of a serious crime. This decision does not mean that the crime the juvenile was convicted of does not deserve to be severely punished. It means we must view juveniles as juveniles individually and not to toss every single juvenile in prison for a lifetime without hope of release.
For over 30 years, Wallin & Klarich has been helping families when their children are facing serious criminal charges. Wallin & Klarich’s outstanding juvenile criminal lawyers are ready to help you now. Contact us at (1-888-280-6839). We will be there to help your family when you call.