Saturday, November 3, 2012

Life Without Parole For Juveniles Unconstitutional

Juvenile Law gets some serious attention. Last June the U.S. Supreme Court held that a sentence of mandatory life without parole for juveniles was a violation of the Eight Amendment's ban against cruel and unusual punishmnet. In the case of Miller v. Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012), the court talked about a juvenile's lack of maturity and an underdeveloped sense of responsibility which often leads to recklessness and impulsivity. However Michigan courts are now dealing with the issue of whether this ruling should be applied retroactively. Michigan has approximately 350 cases where juveniles were sentenced to life without parole. It makes sense to apply the new ruling retroactively, but the court has to also decide how these individuals should be resentenced. The case before the Michigan Court of Appeals is People v. Raymond Carp, No.307758. This decision will have a profound impact on how we treat juvenile defendants in Michigan. This case will force the courts to take a good look at how Juveniles were sentenced in the past and to come up with some new thoughts about sentencing. Prior to Miller, judges had no chioce but to impose mandatory life without parole for juveniles convicted of first degree murder. Now courts may be able to take into consideration the age of the offender and the fact that children are more vulnerable to negative influences because of their lack of maturity. Wisdom generally comes with age. Let's see what wisdom comes from the Michigan courts when it come to sentencing juveniles. Stay tuned and visit our web site at

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