Supreme Court Reviewing Florida Case That Sent a Juvenile to Prison for Life

The 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution forbids the government from imposing cruel and unusual punishment. The Florida Constitution has a similar provision. This issue normally arises in death penalty cases. However, the U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing the issue of whether it is cruel and unusual punishment to sentence a juvenile to life in prison for committing a crime that did not involve a murder.

Two of the cases being reviewed by the USSC are Florida cases- one involved a 13 year old who was convicted of the rape of an elderly woman, and the other involved a 17 year old who was convicted of armed robbery and other related charges. There are 77 prison inmates who have been sentenced to life in prison for crimes that did not involve a homicide. Florida seems to have more than most, if not all, other states. The judges on the Supreme Court can decide to keep the status quo and allow criminal courts in Florida to impose life sentences for juveniles who commit serious but non-homicide crimes, abolish the practice altogether or come up with some middle ground where the judges are required to weigh certain factors before imposing a life sentence in such cases.

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