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May 27, 2010

Effective new commentary on the Supreme Court's work in Graham

Over at Findlaw, Professor Sherry Colb has this new column on the Supreme Court's recent Eighth Amendment work in Graham.  The piece is titled simply, "High Court Rejects Life Without Parole for All Juvenile, Non-Homicide Crimes," and here is how it starts and ends:

Last week, in Graham v. Florida, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishments bars the sentencing of juvenile offenders to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole ("LWOP") for non-homicide offenses.  As I noted in an earlier column, such a decision stands in considerable tension with the Court's existing precedents.  Accordingly, though the majority opinion does not explicitly depart from prior rulings, there is nonetheless reason to expect that the Court may now be more willing to entertain Eighth Amendment challenges to lengthy prison sentences than it has been in the past....

Just as imprisonment is different from death, then, there is much to distinguish different prison sentences from one another.  The Supreme Court has now, laudably, recognized that LWOP can represent an excessively harsh sentence for at least one class of offenders and offenses.  Its decision in Graham v. Florida thus provides hope that the harshness of prison sentences — and their relation, if any, to the seriousness of people's crimes — can once again become a fit subject of Eighth Amendment scrutiny in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Some recent related posts with my own Graham analysis:

May 27, 2010 at 09:47 AM | Permalink


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Yeah, Colb is such an astute commentator that she was dead wrong in predicting the outcome of this case just a few months ago. Luckily, she doesn't let that stop her from continuing to enlighten us with her incisive opinions.

Posted by: Anon | May 28, 2010 6:46:45 PM

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