Supreme Court Rejects Some Life Terms For Juveniles
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
LYNN NEARY, Host:
Nina, can you tell us what this case is about?
NINA TOTENBERG: And so Graham's lawyers, then, went all the way to the Supreme Court, claiming that the penalty of life in prison without parole for a juvenile offender who does not commit a homicide is cruel unusual punishment. And today, the Supreme Court agreed by a six-to-three vote.
NEARY: And what's the reasoning behind that decision, that it's cruel and unusual punishment?
TOTENBERG: Well, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion for five of the six justices in the majority. He noted that while 37 states allow juveniles to be sentenced to life without parole for a non-homicide crime, only 10 states actually do it. And so therefore, he said there is no national consensus for this penalty. In fact, there's a consensus the other way, and that under our standards, current standards, therefore this is a disproportionate penalty, therefore cruel and unusual punishment and that Florida - where this crime occurred - is the outlier. Seventy-seven of the juveniles who have been sentenced to life without parole out of 129 are in Florida.
NEARY: Legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg. Nina, thanks so much.
TOTENBERG: Thanks, Lynn.
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