Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Supreme Court Strikes Down Mandatory Life Sentences for Juveniles, Cites Sandusky Conviction as Reason

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- As the Supreme Court continues a marathon session of landmark rulings that pave the way for unrestricted racial profiling, limitless campaign contributions by special interest groups and what may turn out to be the end of accessible health care for most Americans, one decision has escaped notice. On Monday, a divided court struck down mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles convicted of capital crimes. Representing the majority opinion, Justice Elena Kagan wrote: "Mandatory life without parole for a juvenile precludes consideration of his chronological age and its hallmark features; among them, immaturity, impetuosity and failure to appreciate risks and consequences." The court's conservative judges voiced strong dissent. Justice Samuel Alito accused the majority of forcing society to "be exposed to the risk that these convicted murderers, if released from custody, will murder again."

But by a slim margin of 5-4, Justices Kagan, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor prevailed, successfully determining the sentences to be cruel and unusual punishment. Legal experts speculated that the judges had been influenced by a 1999 Arkansas case where a 14-year-old received the mandatory life sentence as an accomplice to an armed robbery turned deadly, even though he had no direct involvement in the shooting. But SCOTUS insiders said the five justices were ultimately persuaded by the guilty verdict in the Jerry Sandusky trial.

"The majority felt that condemning minors to the untold horrors of being raped over and over again, each day, in the prison shower and cafeteria and woodshop and exercise yard by Sandusky exceeded reasonable punitive limits," a senior clerk explained. "I even heard Justice Scalia say lethal injection offers more humanity and dignity; but then he also used that same rationale to argue for executing child criminals."

(c) 2012. See disclaimers.
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