In a 5 to 4 decision, the Supreme Court today ruled that juveniles cannot be handed mandatory sentences for life without the possibility of parole. The court considered a set of murder cases in which teenagers were sentenced to life in prison without parole. The question before the court: does locking up kids and throwing away the key violate the 8th amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment? The answer from the court is a clear Yes, in part. The court did not all together prohibit life sentences to juveniles, but did reject mandatory life without parole sentences for young people.
This is the third major case in the last several years on juvenile sentencing. In 2005, the court outlawed the death penalty for juveniles and last year the court found that juveniles can not be locked up forever for crimes other than murder. This decision extends these previous restrictions to cases of murder by juveniles.
A previous version of this post suggested the court had rejected all life without parole sentences, rather than just mandatory sentences.