"Undecided," is the title of her latest OpEd column in today's New York Times. Here's the beginning:
With the end of the Supreme Court’s term in view, the focus is naturally on the cases to be decided. So it’s worth pausing, before the final onslaught, over a case the court won’t be deciding, one that the justices turned away earlier this week although it cried out for their attention, and ours.
The question was whether a Pennsylvania prison inmate serving a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole for a murder committed in 1999 when he was 17 could get the benefit of a 2012 Supreme Court decision that found such sentences to be unconstitutional. The court’s ruling in Miller v. Alabama held that for offenders who committed murder before the age of 18, a sentence of life without parole could be imposed only after individualized consideration of the defendant’s age and circumstances.
In other words, the sentence is permissible at the end of the day, but it can’t be automatic, as it was at the time in more than half the states as an alternative to the death penalty, which a 2005 Supreme Court decision precluded for juvenile murderers. Pennsylvania has some 500 inmates, fully a quarter of the national total, currently serving no-parole life sentences for murder they committed as juveniles.
Related posts are in the juvenile category index.