Monday, May 17, 2010
US Supreme Court: Life in Prison for Juveniles Violates 8th Amendment (sometimes).
Graham v. Florida. Today the high court ruled that the 8th Amendment forbids sentencing a juvenile to life in prison without parole for a non-homicide crime. At the same time, in Sullivan v. Florida, the court digged the issue of LWOP for homicides. So that issue remains open.
Thomas, Scalia and Alito dissented (no surprise there). Roberts joined in a separate opinion.
Effect in NC? Very little. The only non-homicide LWOP crimes in NC are B1 felonies (1st degree rape or sex offense), aggravated for level V or VI offenders. Very few juveniles would be able to rack up that kind of record level pre-18 and get a judge to throw the book at them, so the issue is negligible here.
The big issue for NC is the one digged in Sullivan. We'll just have to wait and see!
There are currently 44 juveniles serving LWOP sentences in NC.