Pennsylvania can no longer mete out mandatory life sentences for juveniles who have committed murder. The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision has nullified this harsh practice. The case Miller v. Alabama, decided by the Court on June 25, made it unconstitutional for those under the age of 18 to receive life in prison without possibility of parole.
Questions abound about how this impacts juveniles already convicted of murder who are serving life sentences. Does this mean that Supreme Court’s decision needs to reach back retroactively to all juveniles who have been convicted of murdering and who have received a life sentence without parole possibility? Will those who have been jailed for many years now be eligible for parole?
The Pennsylvania Judiciary Committee recently heard testimony on this topic from lawyers and from advocates for juvenile prisoners and for victims’ rights. When the Pennsylvania Senate reconvenes in September, it may potentially address this issue.
Pennsylvania Ranks Highest in Nation for Imprisoning Juveniles for Life Without Parole
Sadly, Pennsylvania is first in the nation for imprisoning juveniles without the possibility of parole. According to Department of Corrections Data, state prisons are holding 380 inmates without parole from murders committed when they were under the age of 18. This accounts for 16 percent of about 2500 juvenile inmates imprisoned nationwide without possibility of parole.
Taxpayers Foot Bill of $1.7 Million Dollars for Those Imprisoned for 50 Years
Forty-one of these former juveniles imprisoned for life are 25 or younger. It costs the Department of Corrections $34,000 annually to care for an inmate. A life sentence that ends, say, after 50 years in prison will cost taxpayers $1.7 million. It might make sense to rehabilitate, rather than punish for life.
Talk With an Experienced Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have a juvenile who has been arrested for a serious crime, or if you have been accused of a serious crime, the law office of Laguna Reyes Maloney LLP can aggressively protect your rights and your freedom.