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Monday, June 25, 2012

Supreme Court: No More Mandatory Life Without Parole For Juveniles

The Supreme Court has ruled that it’s unconstitutional to mandate that juveniles convicted of murder be sentenced to life in prison without eligibility for parole. (According to federal law, a juvenile is someone under the age of 18, but some states define “juvenile” differently.)

The decision comes in the robbery and murder cases of two 14-year-olds. Evan Miller was convicted of killing a man in Alabama, and Kuntrell Jackson was convicted of being an accomplice in an Arkansas robbery that ended in murder. Both were sentenced to life without parole.

The Supreme Court’s decision comes two years after the high court banned life without parole for juveniles convicted of crimes other than murder.

Guest:

  • Deborah Becker, reporter for WBUR, Boston, 2012 Juvenile Justice Fellow for the John J. College of Criminal Justice in New York

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  • Brian Young

    In your discussion about the case of Joe Donovan, I feel you drastically understated the heinousness of the crime.  The woman you interviewed claimed Yngve Raustein was killed in a fight.  That is not true.  

    It wasn’t a fight with a tragic ending.  It wasn’t even a mugging that went horribly wrong.  According to Donovan’s accomplice, Raustein was killed “just to see what it was like to see somebody die.”  [quote taken from The Boston Phoenix, Aug 5, 2009]  

    Although I don’t have any strong feelings about life sentences for juvenile offenders, I do feel it is important to be clear that Rustein was not killed in a fight.  He was doing nothing more than walking along a street on a warm September evening.

    Brian Young
    MIT, class of 1996    

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