Ira v. Janecka

Joel Ira was sentenced to 91½ years for a non-homicide crime he allegedly committed in his early teens. He must serve at least 45 years prior to becoming parole eligible. Juvenile Law Center filed an amicus brief in the New Mexico Supreme Court in support of Mr. Ira.

Our brief argued that Mr. Ira’s sentence is the functional equivalent of life without parole, his sentence failed to consider his age and age-related characteristics as required by United States Supreme Court jurisprudence, and children are categorically less deserving of the harshest forms of punishment.

The New Mexico Supreme Court upheld Mr. Ira’s 91½ year sentence concluding, “Graham applies when a multiple term-of-years sentence will in all likelihood keep a juvenile in prison for the rest of his or her life because the juvenile is deprived of a meaningful opportunity to obtain release . . .  In this case, . . . we conclude that Ira has a meaningful opportunity to obtain release” because he “can be eligible for a parole hearing when he is 62 years old.”