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The Supreme Court of the United States Rejects New Juvenile Sentences Restrictions

WASHINGTON-Reuters On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to impose new limitations on life terms in jail without parole for juvenile criminals, ruling against a Mississippi man accused of murdering his grandfather at age 15 in a case testing the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel, unusual punishment.

The judges in a 6-3 decision dismissed the inmate’s claim, Brett Jones, that his life term in jail with no possibility of parole violated the Eighth Amendment because the judge had not made a separate judgment that he was permanently incorrigible. The six conservatives on the court were in the majority, with three liberal members opposing.

court reject on juvenile sentences | Law-Order

Jones, now 31, was accused in 2004 of fatally stabbing his grandfather in a boy’s girlfriend dispute.

The verdict, written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, marked the end of previous court rulings that set limitations on life terms without parole for juvenile offenders. After adding three judges named by former President Donald Trump since 2017, the court moved right with a 6-3 conservative majority.

Kavanaugh said it was the duty of states, not the courts, to “make those large moral and political decisions” on reforming juvenile punishment.

In a scathing dissenting opinion, liberal judge Sonia Sotomayor said the court essentially dismissed previous decisions imposing new limits on juvenile sentencing.

“The court fools nobody,” Sotomayor wrote, saying the court downplayed the ruling’s effect.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that mandatory life sentences without parole in murder cases involving juvenile offenders were cruel and unusual punishment. Previously, the court also ruled that juveniles should not be hanged and that only juveniles convicted of murder should be sentenced to life terms without parole.

U.S. Supreme Court rejects new curbs on juvenile sentences | Reuters

In 2016, the judges ruled that the 2012 decision applied retroactively, meaning convicted prisoners sentenced years earlier could then argue for parole.

According to the Sentencing Project, a non-profit organisation that advocates sentencing reform, 29 of the 50 states approve life sentences without parole for offenders while 20 states have no inmates serving those sentences.


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