The U.S. Supreme Court, which has in recent years been overwhelming conservative in its decisions, showed signs of humanity when it ruled that juvenile offenders under 17 could no longer be sentenced to life without parole for crimes that didn’t result in a death.
Calling such sentences cruel and unusual punishment, and in violation of the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, the Justices ruled 6-3 in favor of putting an end to judicial punishments that give offenders no hope of a life after prison. Even Chief Justice John Roberts, a notorious conservative appointed by President George W. Bush, ruled on the side of what’s fair and decent.
At the heart of the decision was the case of Terrance Graham who, at 17, was already on parole when he broke into a home and robbed the owners by gunpoint. To be fair, it seems that Graham, now in his early 20s, didn’t learn from his first crime and stint in jail. However, a life sentence without the possibility of parole for someone so young in a case where no one was killed seems especially harsh.