Our brief urged the court to grant review in order to clarify that its prior rulings extend to term-of-years sentences that are the functional equivalent of juvenile life without parole and hold that any sentence that condemns a youth to die in prison is constitutionally disproportionate regardless of whether it is formally labeled “life without parole.”
Juvenile Law Center, joined by more than a dozen advocacy organizations, filed an amicus brief in the Kentucky Supreme Court in support of Mr. Bredhold and the trial court’s decision. We argued that objective indicia of evolving standards of decency and research in neuroscience require abolition of the death penalty for individuals who were under 21 years of age at the time of their offense.
Our brief argued the imposition of life without parole sentences on young adults is unconstitutional because, as emerging research shows, the brain functions relevant to the characteristics of youth are still developing in young adults.
Our brief urged the court to grant review in order to enforce its precedent recognizing the reduced culpability and heightened Eighth Amendment protections for youth, and declare a categorical bar on all life without parole sentences for juveniles. We argued that juvenile life without parole sentences are imposed in racially discriminatory ways that disproportionately punish Black boys.