July 30, 2018
A deep dive into various big and little juvenile life without parole stories
The Dublin Review has published this very lengthy discussion of juvenile life without parole sentences under the simple headline "A different season." The lengthy piece is authored by Andrew Purcell, and it cannot be readily summarized. Here is one snippet:
Many of Pennsylvania’s district attorneys have responded to the Supreme Court’s Montgomery decision by striking plea deals with the longest-serving prisoners. Others, in conservative counties, have not. By late September 2017, 173 of the state’s 517 juvenile lifers had been re-sentenced, and 77 paroled for time served. Most of the released prisoners are from Philadelphia, creating a small community of men with the shared experience of being locked up their entire adult lives, adapting to a world that has moved on without them. Courtney ‘Juan’ Boyd, recently released after serving thirty-six years, was calling John to ask about a re-sentencing hearing the previous night for a prisoner called Andre Martin. At fifteen, Martin shot a police officer in the head from a window at the Wilson Park projects. He had forty-one years in already, and the prosecution was seeking sixty to life, supported at the hearing by the dead cop’s family and a roomful of police officers. Judge Barbara McDermott gave him forty-four to life. In three years, the opposing sides will meet again at an equally charged parole hearing, to argue about whether or not Martin should be released.
Each of the fifty states has responded differently to the Montgomery v Louisiana ruling, and there are also variations within states, as district attorneys interpret the concept of ‘permanent incorrigibility’. In Michigan, for instance, prosecutors initially sought new life-without-parole sentences for 236 of the 363 men and women serving mandatory life terms for crimes committed as minors, a clear deviation from the Supreme Court’s intent to reserve the punishment for ‘the rarest of juvenile offenders’. The Oakland County DA has asked for life without parole in forty-four of forty-nine cases; ‘These are young Hannibal Lecters,’ county sheriff Michael Bouchard told the press. In Missouri, teenage lifers are now eligible for parole once they have spent twenty-five years in prison, but of twenty-three who have applied, twenty have been denied. In Maryland, all 271 juvenile lifers are parole-eligible, but no such prisoner has been released in two decades.
All over the country, lawsuits are establishing whether and how Montgomery should affect discretionary sentences. ‘We think the Montgomery standard is impossible [for prosecutors] to beat, in that everyone is capable of rehabilitation given the proper support,’ said Brooke McCarthy of the Juvenile Law Centre. ‘To say that you can never fix someone in the future, no matter what, is such an incredibly difficult standard to reach. Some district attorneys have gotten clever … so rather than asking for life without parole they’re asking for fifty-, sixty-, seventy-five-year minimums.’
July 30, 2018 at 05:24 PM | Permalink
I do not agree that juveniles should just be GIVEN reduced sentences because the USSC says it THINKS such sentences should be rare. Juveniles who murder are RARE in every respect and should receive long sentences. How many of us can actually say that growing up we killed someone. None, I am sure. So, those who do kill are necessarily rare. The USSC crossed the separation-of-powers line in this case and it was wrong.
Posted by: MIJS | Jul 31, 2018 6:36:42 AM
Juveniles are superior to adults in all mental and physical functions, including morality. They have lower rates of violent crimes than adults. These juveniles are more deviant from other juveniles than adult murderers are from other adults. They are more dangerous. Juvenile age is an aggravating factor, not a mitigating factor.
Posted by: David Behar | Jul 31, 2018 11:37:36 AM