Supreme Court affirms Miller Retroactivity in 6-3 Montgomery v. Louisiana Decision

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday morning in Montgomery v. Louisiana by a 6-3 margin that its 2012 ruling in Miller v. Alabama, which ruled that mandatory life-without-parole sentences cannot be imposed on those were younger than 18 at the time of their offense, must be held retroactive. The decision drew heavily on Miller, gives thousands of people hope that they and their loved ones will receive a meaningful opportunity for release, and will help to ensure that the date of conviction will not be the difference between second chances and certain death in prison. regardless of the timing of anyone’s case.

Justice Kennedy delivered the majority opinion, which was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan.

Find the opinion in its entirety linked here.

Further news coverage:

ABC News: Justices Extend Bar on Automatic Life Terms for Teenagers

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that people serving life terms for murders they committed as teenagers must have a chance to seek their freedom, a decision that could affect more than 1,000 inmates.

The justices voted 6-3 to extend a ruling from 2012 that struck down automatic life terms with no chance of parole for teenage killers. Now, even those who were convicted long ago must be considered for parole or given a new sentence.

Washington Post:Supreme Court: Juveniles sentenced to life have option for new reviews

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that those sentenced as teenagers to life imprisonment for murder must have a chance to argue that they be released from prison.

The court said its 2012 decision that struck down mandatory life imprisonment terms for juveniles must be applied retroactively. That would mean new sentencing or a chance to argue for parole, said Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote the 6-to-3 decision.

Youthful offenders deserve a second chance

By Miriam Aroni Krinsky, Ernie Pierce and Jeanne Woodford

One of us is a retired police officer who daily put his life on the line to catch criminals. Another is a former Department of Justice attorney who spent years prosecuting violent drug dealers and organized crime organizations. The third, a former warden of San Quentin State Prison and director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, spent her career ensuring that those convicted served out their sentences as required by law.

Collectively, we have put or kept a lot of people in prison. Prison is where some people justly belong, many for long periods of time. But it is exactly our experience in law enforcement that causes us to agree with the Supreme Court’s recent decision to abolish the sentence of life without parole for teens in nonhomicide cases.

Read more from the Los Angeles Times

Young criminals, appropriate punishment


THE U.S. SUPREME COURT last month ruled 5 to 4 that juveniles convicted of non-homicide crimes may not be sentenced to life without parole.

In the case, Graham v. Florida, the court followed essentially the same reasoning it used when it declared in 2005 that juveniles may not be executed: Scientific evidence is conclusive that young people have “limited moral capability” for their crimes – and their punishment should reflect that fact.

Read more in the Philadelphia Daily News…

Kids Do Criminal Things, But Prison for Life?

By David Schoetz and the ABC Nightline staff

Kenneth Young grew up in the rough-and-tumble drug underworld of Tampa, Florida.

As a 14-year-old, he was arrested and hauled off to jail after he got caught up in a string of motel robberies that his mother’s drug dealer forced him to commit.

Read more at ABC Nightline’s “Where We Fit” blog

Supreme Court ruling opens door for juvenile justice reform

By Beth Locker and Julia Neighbors

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court wisely ruled that children who have not committed murder can no longer be imprisoned for life without the chance for parole. Georgia was listed as one of the states where this practice had been allowed. In our state’s criminal justice system today, children as young as 13 can be treated as adults.

But children aren’t adults — and our courts shouldn’t treat them that way. Research shows that brain development takes place in stages and isn’t fully complete in adolescence and that the brain continues to develop until our early to mid-twenties. That means behaviors can change and there is hope for rehabilitation.

Read more at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Let juvenile offenders have reason for hope

by JoAnne Talarico, Iowa Coalition 4 Juvenile Justice

I believe that the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding life-without-parole sentences for youth under the age of 18 who commit non-homicide crimes calls us to take a good look at the difference between adolescents and adults.

If we really believe that adolescents can change with proper rehabilitation, then we must revise our sentencing laws so that adolescents are never tried in adult courts. They must be held accountable for their actions.

Read the rest of the letter in the Des Moines Register

Treating juvenile offenders differently


THE U.S. Supreme Court astutely ruled that juveniles who commit crimes in which no one is killed cannot be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

Sentencing juveniles to prison for the rest of their lives is judicial overkill that the court correctly singled out as an infringement on the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Read more in the Seattle Times…

Kids Incarcerated -- Forever?

by Jody Kent

I have been in touch with many people who have been sentenced to die in prison for serious crimes committed when they were teenagers. None of them grew up in communities of privilege where they were surrounded by opportunity. Many of them were told by teachers and other adults in their lives that they had no potential. Some of them were victims of crimes themselves.

All of these young people deserve to be held accountable, but not in a way that simply reinforces the hopelessness that has surrounded them from day one. Instead, the responsible thing to do in a civil society is to empower and encourage young people to fulfill their individual potential. Due to fear and political pressure, our nation has moved away from this approach and too often gives up on young people, even for life.

Read more at the Huffington Post

Battle for a second chance leads to a landmark ruling

by Stephanie Chen

Mary Graham vividly remembers the day in 2006 when a Florida judge determined that her teenage son was beyond redemption.

The judge sentenced the boy, who was accused of committing a second armed robbery at the age of 17, to life in prison without the possibility of parole.


Courts Limits Harsh Terms for Youths

By Joan Biskupic and Martha T. Moore

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Monday that juveniles cannot be sentenced to life without parole for crimes other than murder, in a significant 5-4 decision that says imposing such sentences violates the Constitution’s prohibition on “cruel and unusual” punishment.

The court’s 5-4 decision — which says that an automatic life sentence for a young offender who has not committed murder violates the Constitution’s ban on “cruel and unusual” punishment — wipes out laws in 37 states.

 Read more in USA Today