Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Juvenile Offenders Seek Review of Life Sentences

Pennsylvania leads the nation with more than 450 inmates serving life without parole for killings they committed as juveniles. Last week was the deadline for Pennsylvania offenders convicted as juveniles and serving life terms who have already exhausted appeals to seek a review of their convictions.

The opportunities arose when the U.S. Supreme Court banned life without parole for juvenile nonhomicide offenders. In Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. ___ (2010), the high court held that Terrance Graham, who was sentenced to life in prison as a juvenile for a burglary and robbery, is entitled to some opportunity to have his sentence reviewed for the purpose of release. In doing so the Court held that “the Constitution prohibits the imposition of a life without parole sentence on a juvenile offender who did not commit homicide.”

Attorneys in Philadelphia, citing the Supreme Court ruling, have filed petitions on behalf of five offenders who were juveniles when they were sentenced to life in prison in Pennsylvania.

According to the Associated Press, most juveniles serving life, more than 90-percent nationally and all of those in Pennsylvania were convicted of murder, which was not addressed in the Graham ruling. But advocates cite language in the ruling saying juveniles have limited moral culpability because adolescent brains are less fully developed.

Attorney Bradley Bridge told the Associated Press, "We are not suggesting here that any of these people should automatically be released . . . all we are contending is that they should be entitled to be considered for parole. They should have the opportunity to prove that they have learned and grown and changed."

1 comment:

Jane Park said...

Juvenile non-homicide offenders deserved some counseling or treatment services to set them straight and on the correct path. Counseling is one of the most accessible options for juvenile offenders. Counseling help juveniles to avoid the troubles, discover their talents, overcome their self-defeating thoughts and behaviors.

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