TEDGlobal2012 – Supreme Court rules mandatory life sentences for children are unconstitutional.
Originally posted on TED Blog:
At TED2012, lawyer Bryan Stevenson made an impassioned case for confronting racial and economic injustice in the American justice system. And, he argued, confronting that means changing the way the system approaches child offenders. In his talk he says: “I represent children. A lot of my clients are very young. The United States is the only country in the world where we sentence 13-year-old children to die in prison. We have life imprisonment without parole for kids in this country … the only country in the world.”
Stevenson is Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, who represented two plaintiffs in a case before the United States Supreme Court. In Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs, two young men were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, sentences that were mandated by law. Stevenson argued that laws mandating sentences of life without the possibility of parole for adolescents and children are unconstitutional.
Yesterday, the Court ruled those mandatory sentences unconstitutional. According to Stevenson, ”This is an important win for children. The Court took a significant step forward by recognizing the fundamental unfairness of mandatory death-in-prison sentences that don’t allow sentencers to consider the unique status of children and their potential for change.”