In a 5 to 4 decision, the Supreme Court today ruled that juveniles cannot be handed mandatory sentences for life without the possibility of parole. The court considered a set of murder cases in which teenagers were sentenced to life in prison without parole. The question before the court: does locking up kids and throwing away the key violate the 8th amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment? The answer from the court is a clear Yes, in part. The court did not all together prohibit life sentences to juveniles, but did reject *mandatory* life without parole sentences for young people. This is the third major case in the last several years on juvenile sentencing. In 2005, the court outlawed the death penalty for juveniles and last year the court found that juveniles can not be locked up forever for crimes other than murder. This decision extends these previous restrictions to cases of murder by juveniles. *A previous version of this post suggested the court had rejected all life without parole sentences, rather than just mandatory sentences.*
Supreme Court Rules No Mandatory Life Without Parole for Juveniles
In a 5 to 4 decision, the Supreme Court today ruled that juvenile cannot be handed mandatory sentences of life without the possibility of parole.
Image: An exterior view of the U.S. Supreme Court is seen on June 21, 2012 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its ruling on the Healthcare Reform Law before the end of its 2011-2012 term. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)