Miller v. Alabama – mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles is unconstitutional

In Miller v. Alabama, decided today, the United States Supreme Court held that mandatory LWOP sentences for juveniles violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.  Miller v. Alabama consolidated two cases – in each a 14 year old was charged with murder, waived up to adult court, convicted, and sentenced to mandatory life without parole pursuant to statute.

The Court is not saying that juveniles cannot receive a sentence of life without parole – what makes the LWOP sentence unconstitutional is the lack of discretion – mandatory LWOP for juveniles violates the Eighth Amendment.  The Court rejected the states’ argument that the fact that there is a waiver process, where the juvenile may or may not be waived from juvenile court to adult court, is sufficient discretion – the court must have discretion at post-trial sentencing as to what sentence a juvenile should receive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *