SJC: No Life Without Parole for Juveniles
BOSTON (AP) — The highest court in Massachusetts has fallen in line with the U.S. Supreme Court and ruled that sentencing juveniles convicted of murder to life in prison without parole in unconstitutional.
The Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday ruled in two cases in which 17-year-old youths were convicted of murder, including one that dates to 1981.
The court said in that case that life without parole for “juvenile homicide offenders … is an unconstitutionally disproportionate punishment when viewed in the context of the unique characteristics of juvenile offenders.”
The U.S. Supreme Court previously ruled that sentencing those under 18 to life without parole violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishments.”
Because a juvenile’s brain is not fully developed a judge cannot accurately determine whether a juvenile is “irretrievably depraved,” the SJC said.