In a landmark decision effecting over half the states, the United States Supreme Court voted 6-3 saying the states cannot sentence juvenile offenders to life in prison without the possibility of parole unless the conviction involves the offense of murder.
In reaching the decision, the court considered the laws of many of countries when they reasoned that juvenile offenders are entitled to have at least some real possibility of rehabilitation and release from custody for offenses other than murder.
While a representative from the District Attorney’s Association suggested this decision was a “get out of jail free ticket” for juvenile offenders, the Justices created no such law. The High Court said that life without the possibility of parole was cruel and unusual punishment for juveniles. This is not to say juvenile offenders cannot serve lengthy prison terms for their crimes, they just cannot serve life sentences with no possibility of parole for crimes other than murder.
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