U.S. Supreme Court Questions If Juvenile Killers Should be Given Second Chance

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments today in the cases of two offenders, sentenced at a young age to die in prison, and may choose to further limit such sentences for minors. Kuntrell Jackson of Arkansas and Evan Miller of Alabama were both 14 years old when they were convicted of a homicide, and both were sentenced to life sentences without the possibility of parole (LWOP). For more on the background of their cases, click here. A juvenile’s “deficits in maturity and judgment and decision-making are not crime specific,” said Bryan Stevenson, who represented both offenders. “All children are encumbered by the same barriers.” Stevenson argued that this was the inevitable conclusion to be drawn from the court’s other two recent cases on juvenile sentencing, Roper v Simmons and Graham v Florida.

U.S. Supreme Court Heard Key Juvenile Cases Tuesday

Story by John Kelly and Ryan Schill

Today, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two murder cases that resulted in mandatory life without parole (LWOP) sentences for juvenile offenders, both of whom were 14 at the time of crime. At the heart of both cases is the question of the constitutionality of sentencing a minor to die in prison. Below is a primer with everything you need to know about Tuesday’s oral arguments, and what events led up to them. The issue

Life without the possibility of parole, which has the common shorthand of LWOP, is the most severe penalty other than death that is handed down to convicts. A prisoner who receives an LWOP sentence will never have the opportunity to become a free citizen again, regardless of his or her attempts to rehabilitate in prison.

Bryan Stevenson at TED 2012: Full Spectrum

TED2012 Helps Equal Justice Initiative Founder Raise $1 Million

“All of our survival is tied to the survival of everyone,” said Bryan Stevenson Thursday at the 2012 TED Conference in Long Beach California. Stevenson is an attorney and the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit organization that litigates on behalf of condemned prisoners, juvenile offenders and others whose trials are marked by racism and misconduct. Stevenson spoke passionately about how the American justice system is distorted around race and poverty. Our prisons are overflowing and the U.S. is still the only industrialized nation in the world that will sentence juveniles to life in prison. Following his talk, $1 million was raised for a campaign run by Stevenson that ends excessive sentencing of children and stops the practice of putting kids in adult jails and prisons.