The U.S. Supreme Court issued an historic ruling Monday, holding that it is unconstitutional to impose mandatory life sentences without parole on children 17 or younger in murder cases. The Court threw out the life sentences for two 14-year-old boys in two separate murder cases. The ruling will affect hundreds of individuals whose sentences did not take their age or other mitigating factors into account.
Bryan Stevenson, founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a grantee of the Open Society Foundations, argued the case for the two boys, Kuntrell Jackson and Evan Miller. One was sentenced to life in prison after the shooting death of a video store clerk during a robbery attempt, even though he wasn't the trigger man. The other beat up his neighbor and set the man's trailer on fire after a night of drinking and drug use. Both are now entitled to new sentencing hearings.
Stevenson has been a major force fighting for equality and justice in the U.S. and at the forefront of reforming our juvenile justice system. In an in-depth interview with the Washington Post about his life's work, he said, "Children are different than adults. We recognize that children need extra protection. Their maturity, their judgment, their development doesn't permit us to treat them like adults. That's the reason why we don't let even the smartest kids smoke or drink or vote or drive cars before they're eligible."
Read the interview and join us in congratulating him for this incredible victory.