Kedrowitz v. State
Nickalas Kedrowitz received an aggregate de facto life sentence of 100 years for offenses he committed at thirteen. At the time of the offenses, Nickalas had cognitive deficits, struggled with reality, and had experienced a chronically traumatizing family life.
Juvenile Law Center; The Center for Law, Brain and Behavior; The Sentencing Project; and the Children’s Policy and Law Initiative of Indiana filed an amicus brief in the Indiana Supreme Court in support of Nickalas. Our brief emphasized the developmental differences between youth and adults, as confirmed by cognitive neuroscientific research, and argued that these differences must inform the sentencing of youth. We further argued that trauma, age, and developmental functioning are important considerations when interpreting developmental science in the context of sentencing. Additionally, our brief argued that Nickalas’s 100-year aggregate sentence is the functional equivalent of a life without parole sentence and is unconstitutional.
The Indiana Supreme Court denied Nickalas’s petition to transfer. In a dissent, Chief Justice Rush noted that, in denying transfer, the Court passed up “an important opportunity to clarify that, consistent with Eighth Amendment precedent, a juvenile’s characteristics matter when considering whether their sentence violates Article 1, Section 16 [of the Indiana Constitution]” as well as “an important opportunity to consider whether Kedrowitz’s 100-year sentence—a de facto sentence of life without parole—passes constitutional muster.”
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