SJC Rules Life Sentences For Juvenile Murderers Are Unconstitutional
The highest court in Massachusetts has fallen in line with the U.S. Supreme Court and ruled that sentencing juveniles convicted of murder to life in prison without parole in unconstitutional.
The Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday ruled in two cases in which 17-year-old youths were convicted of murder.
The justices said in a unanimous opinion that life without parole for juveniles is ``unconstitutionally disproportionate punishment.''
The court said a judge cannot accurately determine whether a juvenile is ``irretrievably depraved,'' because a juvenile's brain is not fully developed.
Gov. Deval Patrick applauded the ruling, saying that young people _ even those who commit terrible crimes _ deserve an opportunity for rehabilitation.
The U.S. Supreme Court previously ruled that sentencing juveniles to life without parole violates the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on ``cruel and unusual punishments.'' (Associated Press)