Our brief argued that the mandatory imposition of life without parole on an 18-year-old violates the federal and Michigan constitutions for the same reasons that the U.S. Supreme Court barred such sentences for youth under 18 in Miller v. Alabama.
Our brief argued that racial bias infects Washington’s criminal legal system and compounds the risk that an unjust life sentence will be imposed, and that Mr. Anderson’s sentence does not serve the penological goals of retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, or rehabilitation. We further emphasized that sentencing youth to life in prison ignores their capacities to make meaningful contributions to their communities in the future.
Our brief argued that Ohio’s policy undermines Congress’s intent to keep children with their families and disregards the advantages of kinship care. The brief further argued that Ohio’s policy disproportionately harms Black and Brown children, as they are overrepresented in the kinship foster care system, and makes already-poor families poorer, as kinship caregivers are typically poorer than licensed non-relative foster parents.
Our brief argued that predicating Class X eligibility on youthful offenses ignores the constitutionally recognized developmental differences between children and adults. We further argued that the Class X Felony Statute has a disproportionate effect on Black and Brown youth, as they are transferred to adult court at disparate rates.
Our brief argued that probable cause hearings that result in transfer to adult court require due process protections to protect youth from the harms of the adult system and prevent racially disproportionate transfer. Our brief also argued that any sentence with a life tail should be treated consistently with the process set forth in State v. Patrick, which mandates consideration of youth and its attendant characteristics before imposing a life sentence. We further argued that life sentences are imposed disproportionately on youth of color and must therefore be subject to additional safeguards.
Our brief argued that mandatory prosecution in adult court exposes youth to severe consequences. We further argued that ORS 419C.370 disproportionately results in criminal prosecution of Black youth, as Black youth are more likely to be subject to traffic stops and, when stopped, are more likely to be searched and subject to prosecution for motor vehicle-involved charges.
Juvenile Law Center filed an amicus brief in an Ohio District Court of Appeals in support of Mr. Graham arguing that the trial court failed to take into consideration the diminished culpability of older adolescents and emphasizing that a growing number of state and federal laws treat older adolescents like youth under 18. Our brief further argued that Mr. Graham’s harsh sentence exacerbates longstanding racial disparities in the application of criminal laws in Ohio and throughout the nation.
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