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Life Sentence For Minors

supreme-court_180x120-150x120Life imprisonment (also known as a life sentence, life-long incarceration or life incarceration) is a sentence of imprisonment for a serious crime where the convicted person is to remain in prison for the rest of his or her life. Examples of crimes for which a person could receive this sentence include murder, high treason, severe or violent cases of drug or human trafficking, or aggravated cases of burglary or robbery resulting in death or great bodily harm (source: wikipedia)

This sentence does not exist in all countries. However, where life imprisonment is a possible sentence, there may also be formal mechanisms to request parole after a certain time of having been in prison. This means that a convict could be entitled to spend the rest of the sentence (i.e., until he or she dies) outside prison; this is usually conditional depending on past and future conduct, possibly with certain restrictions or obligations.

Like other areas of criminal law, sentences handed to minors may differ from those given to legal adults. A few countries worldwide allow for minors to be given lifetime sentences that have no provision for eventual release.

Supreme Court New Ruling

(source: Jay Goodman Tamboli) The Supreme Court ruled on May 17, 2010 that juvenile criminals cannot be sentenced to life in prison without parole except in homicide cases. Though 37 states, the District of Columbia, and federal law allow judges to impose life sentences without parole on juveniles, the Court noted that only 109 people were currently serving life terms for crimes committed while they were minors.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, relied heavily on Roper v. Simmons, the Supreme Court’s 2005 decision forbidding the death penalty for minors. Kennedy wrote that no theory of punishment justified locking up a minor for his or her whole life without any possibility of parole.

The case had been brought by Terrance Jamar Graham, who at the age of 16 robbed a restaurant, hitting the manager on the back of the head with a metal bar. No money was taken, and Graham was placed on probation. Less than 6 months later Graham was again arrested, this time for armed robbery. The judge sentenced Graham to life in prison, saying that his only option was “to try and protect the community from [Graham’s] actions.”

This new ruling will effect nearly 20 Florida prison inmates serving life for crimes they committed in Broward and Palm Beach counties while juveniles (sun-sentinel).

If they haven’t killed someone, it is cruel and unusual punishment to give young criminals a life term with no chance for parole, the nation’s highest court ruled in a 6-3 decision.

Currently, 129 prisoners are serving such terms nationwide. Seventy-seven of those are in Florida, with approximately 10 from Broward and eight from Palm Beach County.

If you have a case and need an expert legal opinion, contact a criminal defense attorney in your area.

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