The United States Supreme Court will entertain oral argument today on the issue of whether a life sentence without parole for a juvenile offender convicted of a non-murder offense violates the Eight Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. The Court has already decided that juveniles are not subject to the death penalty.
Terrence Graham was 16 years old when he was convicted of burglary and attempted armed robbery. He received a one year sentence. Shortly after his release he earned a sentence of life without parole upon being convicted of armed residential burglary and robbery. His criminal defense lawyers argued on appeal that the life sentence, for any juvenile, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
In 2005, the Supreme Court issued a deeply divided opinion when deciding that juveniles cannot be executed. The composition of the Court, of course, has changed radically in the last several years. Mr. Graham may have wished for a speedier appeal process. Oral arguments in his case, and a transcript of the arguments, will be available at http://www.oyez.com.