Court bars life without parole for kids
WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Monday threw out mandatory life in prison without parole for juveniles. The ruling continued its trend of holding that children cannot be automatically punished the same way as criminal adults without considering their age and other factors.
The 5-4 decision split along ideological lines: The court’s four liberals and swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy joined to order states and the federal government to allow judges and juries to consider a juvenile’s age when they hand down sentences for some of the harshest crimes, instead of making life in prison without parole automatic.
By making youth “irrelevant to imposition of that harshest prison sentence, such a scheme poses too great a risk of disproportionate punishment,” wrote Justice Elena Kagan, who was joined in the majority opinion by Kennedy and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.
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