Supreme Court Review

The Supreme Court delivered two interesting decisions today.  In a 6-3 split decision, life sentences without the possibility of parole cannot be handed to criminal juveniles where no one is killed, reversing current law in 37 states, including Florida and California.  This decision stems from Terrance Graham, who, in 2003 at age 16, robbed a Jacksonville, Florida restaurant and was sentenced to a year in jail with three years probation.  A year later, Graham robbed a home with two accomplices; he was sentenced to life in prison for violating his probation.  Justice Kennedy opined that Graham would “die in prison without any meaningful opportunity to obtain release, no matter what he might do to demonstrate that the bad acts he committed as a teenager are not representative of his true character, even if he spends the next half century attempting to atone for his crimes and learn from his mistakes.”

The other High Court decision (7-2 split) upheld the federal government’s authority to detain prisoners deemed “sexually dangerous” beyond the date of their original sentence.  This law effectively reiterated a provision in the 2006 Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, and allows confinement in a federal facility until either: 1) the person’s mental condition improves to the point where he is no longer poses a threat; or, 2) the state assumes responsibility for his care and treatment. The case leading to the decision involved an attorney general prolonging the detention of a child pornographer because of the threat he posed to society, which was initially appealed on grounds of being unconstitutional.

3 thoughts on “Supreme Court Review

  1. It might be cruel and unusual punishment to hold a teenager for life since the young mind can be malleable and teenagers are unfairly overdosed with hormones and so are maybe not fully responsible. We would have a new plea: “Not guilty by reason of hormones”. I think it should be left to each State and the federal court should intervene only if the individual case is cruel and unusual.
    As to holding a predator past his release date, too much discretion is left to the authorities (I cannot trust them) so I say let him out, he’s done his time.

  2. I,personally agree with the decision concerning the life sentences of non-violent crimes commited by juveniles.
    The way a juvenile thinks at 16 is not
    necessarily the way he will think at age
    50.
    Now concerning the detainment of sexual predators beyond their original sentence is not a problem for me. However, is it possible that other criminals might be held longer because some over zealous prosecutor wants to
    exercise his power and authority? This
    precedent only worries me because of the liberal future interpretation as
    applied to other crimes….say…maybe
    misdemeanors or minor felony convictions.

  3. although there are some fine and very dedicated prosecutors, I can’t help but
    remember the edenton day care fiasco and
    the Duke Lacrosse players being dealt a
    crooked hand from Mr. Nifong. Prosecutors who are over zealous should
    be watched by some sort of oversight
    committee…

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