Wednesday, September 23, 2015

SCOTUS will take on retroactivity of Miller v. Alabama banning mandatory JLWOP

In the coming term the Supreme Court, in Montgomery v. Louisiana, will decide whether its 2012 rulingoutlawing mandatory life without parole for juveniles must apply retroactively to those already serving the sentence, reported The Marshall Project. In their Eighth Amendment rulings, the justices are often guided by “evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.” Whether a particular punishment is rare or widespread is one of their yardsticks for measuring contemporary standards.
Those standards are changing quickly in the wake of of the earlier case, Miller v. Alabama. Mills found that, since 2012, nine states have abolished juvenile life without parole entirely. Seventeen have chosen to apply Miller retroactively. All these changes have led to resentencing hearings and parole eligibility for as many as a thousand people previously sentenced to life without parole. (Whether they’re sentenced to life without parole a second time at their resentencing hearings is an open question. Only mandatory sentences were outlawed; the sentence is allowed if the judge has discretion to choose.)
Accounting for these changes, “the true number of persons subject to [life without parole] is likely closer to 1,300,” Mills writes. Just as John DiIulio recanted his superpredator theory when ranks of homicidal teenagers failed to materialize, so a generation later the law may be catching up.
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