U.S. Supreme Court restricts life sentences for youth

08:20, May 18, 2010      

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday banned life sentence without the possibility of parole for minors if they didn't commit murder, saying such sentences are unconstitutional.

The high court handed a 5-4 ruling on the matter, rejecting the state of Florida's sentence of Terrance Graham, who was implicated in armed robberies when he was 16 and 17, and sentenced as adult.

The lawyers of Graham, who is 22 now, challenged his sentence under the constitution's clause banning "cruel and unusual punishment."

The court found Graham was denied "any chance to later demonstrate that he is fit to rejoin society based solely on a nonhomicide crime that he committed while he was a child," according to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

The court said the state must "give defendants like Graham some meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation."

Altogether, there are 129 prisoners serving life sentences without the chance of parole for nonhomicide crimes committed as juveniles but tried as adults, 77 of them in Florida.

About 2,000 prisoners are serving life sentences with no chance of parole for homicide committed as juveniles, and their fate is not influenced by the ruling.

Source:Xinhua

(Editor:intern1)

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