To the "ho-hum" of the nation, the national media reported back in May, and last week, that in November the United States Supreme Court will take up the issue of whether life in prison without the possibility of parole for juveniles convicted for non-homicide offenses is a violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
Here's a story from the LA Times.
According to Amnesty International, "The United States is the only country in the world that does not comply with the norm against imposing life-without-parole sentences on juveniles."
While about 2,500 juveniles are serving life sentences without the possibility of parole, 109 are serving life for other crimes.
Our own attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum isn't interested in addressing the issue of whether life in prison without parole for juveniles who commit non-homicide crimes is cruel and unusual, he's just arguing that it's too late to raise the issue. I think when defense lawyers do things like that it's referred to as a "technicality."
Here's a shock "Florida leads the nation in sending teenagers to prison for life with no possible parole for crimes such as burglary, assault or rape. It has at least 77 such inmates. California and six other states also have at least one.
Two years ago, California prohibited sentencing juveniles to life in prison.
Don't worry about Florida, as our government lawyers are arguing in their brief, these juveniles who commit these violent non-homicide offenses are "threatening the state's bedrock tourism industry."
The crux of this issue is that we've given up on our kids. We don't care. Put 'em all away. Whether they're 14, 16, 17, who cares. Hell, we arrest 8 year old kids all over the country for things their punishment used to be sending them to the principal.
Get them off the streets, forever.
Especially in Florida, where Mickey lives.
Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court. Read his free ebook The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. To learn more about Brian and his firm, Tannebaum Weiss, please visit www.tannebaumweiss.com
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