SJC Strikes Down Life Without Parole For Minors

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Before today, children in Massachusetts — who were too young to vote, drive or serve in the military — could be sentenced to life in prison.

But not any more.

In a ruling today, the Supreme Judicial Court said judges may no longer rule that a minor who comes before them is "irretrievably depraved." That's the legal term that once permitted the high court to sentence young people convicted of particularly heinous crimes to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Today, the court said such punishment is  cruel and unconstitutional.

Last year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that automatic life sentences without parole for juveniles were unconstitutional. But today's ruling by the Massachusetts high court went further.


James Alan Fox, professor of criminology, law and public policy at Northeastern University

This segment aired on December 24, 2013.


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