Friday, December 3

US Supreme Court Refuses to Limit Life in Prison Without Probation Sentences for Juveniles | Supreme Court of the United States

The new conservative US Supreme Court has refused to impose new limits on juvenile sentences to life in prison without the possibility of parole, marking a break from previous court sentences that had moved on. gradually toward greater leniency for minors over the past two decades.

In a ruling illustrating the impact of former President Donald Trump’s appointments of three justices, the superior court ruled to reject the arguments of Mississippi’s Brett Jones, who was convicted of killing his grandfather at age 15 and is serving a sentence. life imprisonment. without parole. The six Conservatives on the court were in the majority, and the three Liberal members disagreed.

The judges rejected Jones’ arguments that his sentence violated the eighth amendment to the constitution that prohibits cruel and unusual punishment because the judge at his trial had not concluded that he was “permanently incorrigible.”

The “argument that the sentenced person must make a determination of permanent incorrigibility is inconsistent with court precedents,” Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who was controversially appointed to office in 2018 under the Trump administration, he wrote for the majority.

In scathing dissent, liberal magistrate Sonia Sotomayor wrote that the higher court’s decision “guts” precedents that had strictly limited life sentences for minors without the possibility of parole. He added that the ruling tried to “circumvent” a legal precedent and “was not fooling anyone.”

As of 2005, the Supreme Court had concluded in a series of cases that minors should be treated differently from adults, in part due to the lack of maturity of minors. That year, the court eliminated the death penalty for minors. Five years later, it outlawed life sentences without parole for minors, except in cases of murder. In 2012 and 2016, the court again took the side of minors. The court said life sentences without parole should be reserved “for all juvenile offenders except the rarest, those whose crimes reflect permanent incorrigibility.”

Since then, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose votes were key to those decisions, have been replaced by more conservative judges.

The current case asked judges whether a minor should be declared “permanently incorrigible,” or totally incapable of being rehabilitated, before being sentenced to life in prison without parole.

The specific case before the judges involved Jones, who is now 31 years old, and was convicted of fatally stabbing his grandfather in 2004 in a dispute involving the boy’s girlfriend.

Jones was 15 years old and living with his grandparents when he fatally stabbed his grandfather. The two got into a fight in the kitchen after Bertis Jones found his grandson’s girlfriend in her grandson’s bedroom. Brett Jones, who was using a knife to make a sandwich before the fight, stabbed his grandfather first with that knife and then, when it broke, with another knife. He was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In the case – Jones v Mississippi, 18-1259 – Jones had argued that he is not “permanently incorrigible” and therefore should be eligible for parole. Mississippi says the 8th Amendment does not require that Jones be determined to be permanently incorrigible to receive a life sentence without parole, only that Jones’ status be considered as a minor when he committed his crime.

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