Commonwealth v. Lugo

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Nathan Lugo received a mandatory sentence of life with parole eligibility after 15 years under Massachusetts’ sentencing scheme for second degree homicide. Juvenile Law Center, along with the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior and the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth, filed an amicus brief in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on behalf of Mr. Lugo. We argued that mandatory sentencing that imposes harsh adult consequences on juvenile offenders without any individualized consideration of age or other mitigating circumstances contravenes the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and is particularly inappropriate when imposed on youth for offenses that include felony murder theories of liability.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld Mr. Lugo's sentence, but declined to address the issue of "whether juvenile homicide offenders require individualized sentencing," stating that "we continue to leave the individualized sentencing question for another day."