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People v. Reyes (March 2023)

RULING: Reyes’ 97-year prison sentence constitutes a de facto life sentence and violates the Eighth Amendment - further proceedings are required.

At 16 years old, Zachary Reyes received a mandatory minimum of 97 years’ imprisonment (45 years for first-degree murder and two 26-year sentences for attempted murder, to run consecutively).

In 2015, Reyes challenged his sentence pursuant to Miller v. Alabama, arguing it was a de facto life sentence for a juvenile, and thus unconstitutional. His appeal was rejected, as the Appellate Court declined to extend the Eighth Amendment Rationale in Miller to the facts of his case. The Court concluded that Miller applied only to actual sentences of life without the possibility of parole and not to aggregate consecutive sentences that amounted to a de facto life term.

Following another motion, the Illinois Court ruled that Miller rationale applied to Reyes’s sentence, and vacated the Appellate Court’s decision. On remand, the trial court sentenced Reyes to 66 years’ imprisonment. Reyes appealed and the sentence was vacated once again.

The case is still in progress as of December 2023.

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