In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that juvenile offenders cannot constitutionally be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. That ruling, which applies even to juvenile murder cases, was significant in that it set a clear limitation on judges handling sentencing for troubled youth.
The decision stopped short of pronouncing whether the ruling could be applied to current inmates. With states unable to agree on the retroactivity of the ruling, the issue has now come to a head with the Supreme Court accepting an appeal which would resolve the split. If the court decides in favor of retroactivity, roughly 2,500 inmates sentenced to life in prison without parole as juveniles stand to potentially benefit. The case is certainly one to keep an eye on for those interested in juvenile justice, as we are.
Young people who get into trouble with the law, of course, deserve to have strong advocacy of their rights and interests. The way advocacy proceeds in each case depends on where exactly a young person is within the juvenile justice system and what his or her needs are. Working with a troubled youth early on, of course, is important so that he or she is able to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the juvenile system. In cases where a youth ends up in the criminal justice system, advocacy is all the more important to minimize the long-term consequences of criminal charges.
Our firm is committed to providing the best possible advocacy for juvenile offenders, regardless of where they are at in justice system. With strong legal advocacy and guidance, we can help young people get the support they need and minimize the consequences of criminal charges.