• May 24, 2010

The Supreme Court limits life sentences for juveniles, citing Houston Institute brief

May 24, 2010

Emily Neburger, Harvard Law Today

On May 16, 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that juveniles who commit crimes in which no one is killed may not be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Justice Anthony Kennedy ’61 wrote the opinion for a 6-3 Court, citing a brief submitted by the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute at HLS, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Referring to that brief, Kennedy emphasized that “the features that distinguish juveniles from adults also put them at a significant disadvantage in criminal proceedings. Juveniles mistrust adults and have limited understandings of the criminal justice system and the roles of the institutional actors within it. They are less likely than adults to work effectively with their lawyers to aid in their defense.”

Read our underlying amicus brief here.

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