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SCOTUS Guts Protections Against Sentencing Kids To Die In Prison

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SCOTUS guts protections for kids with life sentences

In a 6-3 vote, the conservatives on the Supreme Court gutted protections against sentencing kids to die in prison.

The court ruled on Thursday that a judge does not need to find that a person under 18 who commits murder is “permanently incorrigible” before sentencing them to life in prison without parole. In other words, the court approved life without parole sentences for juveniles even if the facts of the case indicate the crime was a result of youthful immaturity and impulsiveness that the individual is likely to outgrow.

The decision in Jones v. Mississippi is a huge setback to the movement to end juvenile life without parole, a punishment that only exists in the U.S. and is banned in half the states in the country. The decision also contradicts Supreme Court precedent that restricted the use of the extreme punishment for kids.

In a 2012 case called Miller v. Alabama, the Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment — although it left in place discretionary life without parole sentences. In Montgomery v. Louisiana in 2016, the court made the ban on mandatory life without parole sentences retroactive. It also clarified that even discretionary life without parole sentences for kids were unconstitutional except for “the rarest of juvenile offenders, those whose crimes reflect permanent incorrigibility.”


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