Miller v. Alabama (June 2012)
The Supreme Court reviewed the cases of two 14-year-old boys who were sentenced to mandatory life in prison without parole after being convicted of murder in adult court. The Court held sentencing laws mandating life in prison without the possibility of parole for juveniles under age 18 convicted of a homicide crime are unconstitutional.
The decision was based on the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, which guarantees people can not be subjected to excessive punishment. The Court established that children are different from adults, meaning children lack maturity and make reckless decisions. Children are more impulsive and risk-prone than adults and also more susceptible to rehabilitation. As a result of this holding, judges must consider youth as a mitigating factor and the circumstances of the crime when sentencing children under the age of 18.