Dying Inside: Teenage Murderer James Morgan Wasn’t Executed, But Is His Life Worth Living?

In 1987, when I first interviewed James Morgan, he was on death row in Florida, sentenced to die in the electric chair for murdering a widow in a small town north of Palm Beach. He killed her when he was 16 years old. Prosecutors argue that teens can never change. How anyone could predict the future that way was a mystery to the American Psychological Association, the American Bar Association, and others. For years I wondered how the death row teens had grown up. If Morgan could transform himself even in a small way, it could prove prosecutors wrong, I imagined. But I knew I couldn’t gauge his progress unless I could meet him decades in the future.

Plea Deal Frees Prisoner but Prolongs Battle Over JLWOP Retroactivity

George Toca, sentenced as a teen to life without parole in 1985  has been released from a Louisiana prison after Orleans Parish prosecutors allowed him to enter an Alford plea, leading to the vacation of his previous sentence. Toca’s case has been at the center of the ongoing legal battle to determine the retroactivity of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling in Miller vs. Alabama. According to SCOTUS Blog Toca’s case had been scheduled to be heard by the court this year and would have addressed retroactivity at least in Toca’s case. “Over the past year, the Court has several times turned down the same plea that it agreed to hear in Toca’s case.