Advocates Challenge Life Without Parole Sentences for Youth Convicted of Capital Crimes
Interview with Ashley Nellis, research analyst with the Sentencing Project, conducted by Melinda Tuhus
Advocates for those incarcerated for life without parole for crimes committed when they were juveniles have taken heart from a U.S. Supreme Court decision in May. The justices ruled that a sentence of life without parole for minors convicted of crimes other than murder is unconstitutional. At the time,130 persons were serving such a sentence, more than half of them in Florida.
Now lawyers are pushing to see if various extenuating circumstances surrounding their own juvenile clients' convictions for murder might also be addressed. According to a report by the Equal Justice Initiative, many youths who receive sentences of life without parole don't have the ability to pay for a private attorney. Most of them come from low-income families, and some come from intense poverty. Many of them are raised in abusive homes and are more vulnerable to getting swept up into violence.
Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Ashley Nellis, a research analyst with the Sentencing Project. She talks about the kinds of crimes that can lead to life without parole and hopes that the Supreme Court will address the issue head on.
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