Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court held that mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional because they are cruel and unusual punishment.
Justice Elena Kagan wrote the Court's opinion, and it's a worthwhile read even for the many of us who aren't lawyers. FAMM issued a press release giving our thoughts about the opinion. There is loads of superb reasoning in the case that could be used to challenge not just mandatory sentences for juveniles, but mandatory sentences for all offenders. Check out this paragraph from Justice Kagan:
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. It prevents taking into account the family and home environment that surrounds him—and from which he cannot usually extricate himself—no matter how brutal or dysfunctional. It neglects the circumstances of the homicide offense, including the extent of his participation in the conduct and the way familial and peer pressures may have affected him. Indeed, it ignores that he might have been charged and convicted of a lesser offense if not for incompetencies associated with youth—for example, his inability to deal with police officers or prosecutors (including on a plea agreement) or his incapacity to assist his own attorneys. See, e.g., Graham, 560 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 27) (“[T]he features that distinguish juveniles from adults also put them at a significant disadvantage in criminal proceedings”); J. D. B. v. North Carolina, 564 U. S. ___, ___ (2011) (slip op., at 5–6) (discussing children’s responses to interrogation). And finally, this mandatory punishment disregards the possibility of rehabilitation even when the circumstances most suggest it.