Friday, August 14, 2009
State Of Florida Tough On Juvenile Offenders
Juveniles in the State of Florida face some of the harshest sentences in the United States. Records show that Florida has handed out more life sentences to juveniles for non-murder crimes than have all other states combined. In a study conducted by Florida State University, 77 young men have been sentenced to life in prison, without parole, in Florida for non-homicide crimes when they were 17 years of age or younger. Six of those juveniles were 13 or 14 at the time of their crimes.
These sentencing trends have raised questions about cruelty and generated protests from human rights groups which argue that these sentences violate the ban on cruel and unusual punishment in the 8th Amendment to the Constitution.
Florida"e;s position on sentencing is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court in a case involving two men, ages 16 and 13 at the time of their crimes, who were sentenced to life without parole. Terrance Graham, was convicted after fleeing police after a home invasion robbery. He was on probation at the time for an armed robbery he committed when he was 16. Despite the recommendations of prosecutors for a sentence of 30 years, the judge, citing an escalating pattern of criminal conduct and the protection of the community, handed down the life sentence. The other party to the Supreme Court case involves a then 13 year old convicted after a one day trial of raping a 72 year old woman.
A wide array of groups including the American Bar Association and the American Psychiatric Association have filed briefs in the case which is using the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the death penalty for juveniles was unconstitutional as the legal basis for this challenge.
http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090809/ARTICLE/908091068/2107/BUSINESS&Title=Florida justice Tough on youths&template=printart
http://sentencing.typepad.com/sentencing_law_and_policy/graham and sullivan eighth amendment cases/