U.S. Supreme Court restricts life sentences for youth

08:20, May 18, 2010      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 

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.



  • Do you have anything to say?


Special Coverage
  • Premier Wen Jiabao visits Hungary, Britain, Germany
  • From drought to floods
Major headlines
Editor's Pick
  • On Sept. 26, a resident passes by a flower terrace decorated for the coming National Day. (Xinhua/Hang Xingwei)
  • The photo, taken on Sept. 26, shows the SWAT team ready for the joint exercise. (Xinhua/Wangkai)
  • Two metro trains in Shanghai collided Tuesday afternoon, and an identified number of passengers were injured in the accident, the Shanghai-based eastday.com reported. Equipment failures were believed to have caused the crash on the Line 10 subway, Xinhua quoted local subway operator as saying.
  • An employee at a gold store in Yiwu, located in east China's Zhejiang province, shows gold jewelry on Monday.(Xinhua/Zhang Jiancheng)
  • Tourists ride camels near China's largest desert lake Hongjiannao in Yulin, north China's Shaanx Province, Sept. 24, 2011. Hongjiannao is shrinking as a result of climate change and human activities, and may vanish in a few decades. Its lake area, which measured more than 6,700 hectares in 1996, has shrunk to 4,180 hectares. Its water level is declining by 20-30 centimeters annually and its water PH value has risen to 9.0-9.42 from 7.4-7.8. (Xinhua/Liu Yu)
  • Actors perform royal dance at the Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul, Sept. 27, 2011. A ceremony commemorating the 38th South Korea Sightseeing Day was held in Gyeongbok Palace on Tuesday. (Xinhua/He Lulu)
Hot Forum Discussion