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July 26, 2012

Taking stock on what Miller is likely to portend

This new piece from The Crime Report, which is headlined "A Reprieve for Juvenile Lifers?," provides an effective review of what the Supreme Court's recent Eighth Amendment work in Miller could prompt. Here is how it gets started:

The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision banning mandatory life without parole for juvenile criminals gave inmates like Christine Lockheart a glimmer of hope. In response to the Court’s ruling, the Iowa Court of Appeals earlier this month overturned Lockheart’s mandatory life sentence for a murder committed when she was 17 and ordered a judge to hold a new sentencing hearing.

But less than a week later, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad commuted the sentences of all state prisoners serving mandatory life terms for crimes committed as juveniles, and instead gave them life with the possibility of parole after 60 years.

Lockheart’s lawyer says he plans to challenge Branstad’s order in court, arguing that it violates the Supreme Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama. That ruling said that sentencing judges should consider the individual circumstances of crimes committed by juveniles, including “how children are different, and how those differences counsel against irrevocably sentencing them to a lifetime in prison.”

Lockheart’s case is among the first of what criminal justice experts say will be numerous and lengthy legal battles as courts and state legislatures across the country determine how to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling—and what to do with the estimated more than 2,000 prisoners currently serving mandatory life sentences for crimes committed when they were under the age of 18.

“This is very clean at the wholesale level and very messy at the retail level,” said Mark Osler, a professor at the University of St.Thomas Law School, in Saint Paul, MN. “It’s very clear from 10,000 feet that children are different.” Osler, who specializes in sentencing law, added: “But with these 2,000 cases, it’s going to be pretty messy with a lot of different outcomes.”

Though the Court barred mandatory life sentences for juveniles, experts said it left unanswered a host of legal issues that could impact who is eligible for a new sentence and what rights they have. It remains unclear whether the Court’s ruling is retroactive, whether prisoners who petition for a new sentence are entitled to a lawyer, and what standards should be used in handing down sentences for juveniles.

“I expect this will be bounced back up to the Supreme Court multiple times because all those questions have to be answered,” said Frank Bowman, a professor at the University of Missouri and a former federal prosecutor and special counsel to the U.S. Sentencing Commission. “We will be litigating this for years.”

Related recent posts on Miller:

July 26, 2012 at 08:07 PM | Permalink


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Merciless and oblivious, these juveniles are not human beings. Thank the feminist lawyer for their bastardy and for their being kept alive to kill. The victims were all white.


The pro-criminal lawyer enemy is protecting these two. They are surely going to be tortured and killed by their fellow prisoners. In fact, they are being protected by the prison, at this time. The criminal justice system run by the lawyer traitor is a joke. Nothing must be allowed to happen to this source of lawyer government make work.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 27, 2012 6:50:49 AM

“We will be litigating this for years.”

There you go. The real purpose of Miller.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 27, 2012 7:03:03 AM

These kind of post are always inspiring and I prefer to read quality content so I happy to find many good point here in the post, writing is simply great, thank you for the post.

Posted by: Ellision | Aug 1, 2012 6:58:19 AM

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