People v. Lusby

Juvenile Law Center and Children and Family Justice Center filed an amicus brief, joined by ten other advocacy organizations, in the Supreme Court of Illinois in support of Ashanti Lusby.

In 2002, Lusby was sentenced to an aggregate of 130 years in prison, with parole eligibility after serving 65 years for a crime committed at age 16. Amici argued that Lusby’s sentence is a de facto life sentence and is unconstitutional as applied to juvenile offenders. Amici further argued that courts cannot adequately assess whether sentencing decisions made prior to Miller appropriately considered the characteristics of youth as required by Miller. Amici urged the court to remand the case for a resentencing hearing that would properly consider Lusby’s youth status at the time of the offense.

Since Lusby’s initial sentencing, the United States Supreme Court and the Illinois Supreme Court have fundamentally shifted their views on “youth” and how they should be treated in the criminal justice system in light of a more comprehensive understanding of youth development. The United States Supreme Court identified specific factors regarding youth and its characteristics that courts must assess before imposing a life without parole sentence. The Illinois Supreme Court went further and extended Miller protections to youth who were sentenced to discretionary and de facto life sentences.

The Supreme Court of Illinois held that the trial court appropriately considered the Mr. Lusby’s youth and its attendant characteristics before sentencing him, and thus his “de facto discretionary life sentence passes constitutional muster under Miller.”