Apr 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court signals shift from leniency for minors convicted of murder

Photo of the front exterior of the Supreme Court building
Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that minors convicted of murder can be given a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Why it matters: The 6-3 decision comes as a reversal from recent leniency for juveniles, reflecting the conservative opinions on the bench.

The case involved Brett Jones who stabbed his grandfather in Mississippi to death in a dispute over the boy's girlfriend.

  • Jones, who was 15 years old when the incident occurred, was convicted of murder, and a judge sentenced him to life without parole.

What they're saying: The Supreme Court sided with the state of Mississippi, writing: "The argument the sentencer must make a finding of permanent incorrigibility is inconsistent with the Court’s precedents."

    • Previous rulings only mandated that a judge consider "an offender’s youth and attendant characteristics" before issuing the sentence, Justice Brett Kavanaugh added.
    • The court's three liberal justices dissented, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor writing that juvenile offenders serving life without parole want "the opportunity, at some point in their lives, to show a parole board all they have done to rehabilitate themselves and to ask for a second chance."
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