Kinkel v. Laney

Kipland Kinkel received a 112 year sentence for crimes he was convicted of at age 15. At the time of his crimes, Mr. Kinkel suffered from a psychotic mental illness, which included command hallucinations. Following the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Miller v. Alabama and Montgomery v. Louisiana, the Oregon Supreme Court upheld Mr. Kinkel’s sentence finding that his incurable mental illness demonstrated his “irreparable corruption,” and therefore his de facto life without parole sentence was permissible. 

Juvenile Law Center served as co-counsel with Thaddeus Betz for Mr. Kinkel, filing a reply brief in the United States Supreme Court encouraging the court to grant review. Our brief argued that the Oregon Supreme Court’s use of mental illness as a proxy for “irreparable corruption” contravenes U.S. Supreme Court precedent, which has long established mental illness as a mitigating factor. We further argued that Mr. Kinkel’s illness is treatable and cannot be equated with irretrievable depravity.