WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The US Supreme Court on Tuesday decided to challenge the life sentence of a convicted Mississippi murderer in prison, in which he jailed him without parole for a crime at the age of 15. By the judges.
The court heard arguments by teleconference in an appeal brought by 31-year-old Brett Jones, who was found guilty of stabbing his grandfather with a knife in 2004 in a dispute involving Jones’ girlfriend.
The appeal seeks to expand the reach of a 2012 Supreme Court ruling in which judges ruled that mandatory life sentences without parole in murder cases involving juvenile killers violated the U.S. Constitution Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment . The court previously ruled that juveniles cannot be given the death penalty and only juveniles accused of murder can serve a sentence without parole.
In 2016, judges decided that the 2012 ruling applied retrospectively, meaning convicted prisoners could argue for their release for years before incarceration.
The Jones case relates to whether a judge should separately find that a juvenile offender is “permanently disqualified” before imposing a life-without-parole sentence. The trial judge sentencing Jones did not do so.
During the argument on Tuesday, Justice asked the question of what judges need to be sentenced, as well as some should not be required to ascertain uncertainty in a particular situation.
Since the 2016 verdict, the makeup of the court has changed, with three judges appointed by President Donald Trump to form a 6-3 conservative majority.
Orthodox Justice Samuel Alito was keen to reverse course the newly formed court to curb juvenile convictions under the Eighth Amendment.
“What would you tell any member of this court who is concerned that we have now passed light years away from the original meaning of the Eighth Amendment and who are reluctant to proceed on this journey?” Alito asked Jones’ lawyer.
The latest Justice Trump attended Amy Comey Barrett in her second day of debate since being confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate last week. Barrett wondered why Jones did not directly challenge his conviction under the Eighth Amendment instead of relying on the 2012 precedent.
Of the 50 states, 29 allow life-parole punishment for teenagers and 20 states do not serve inmates, according to the Sentencing Project, a nonprofit group that supports reforming the sentencing process .
The Supreme Court last year raised a case involving Lee Boyd Malvo, who was 17 years old when he took part in the 2002 shooting spree of the “DC sniper” in the Washington area, deciding the legal question in the Jones case.
The court dismissed the case after Virginia, where Malvo was sentenced, changed his parole law. The court raised the Jones case instead.
A regime is scheduled to be held by the end of June.
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