The Supreme Court Said Their Sentencing Was Unconstitutional. But They’re Still Behind Bars.

Despite SCOTUS rulings against life without parole sentences for juveniles, most who received that sentence remain incarcerated.

Katie Rose Quandt


Efrén Pare­des Jr.’s life out­side prison was over before he was old enough for a driver’s license.

With no crim­i­nal record, 15-year-old Pare­des worked part-time as a bag­ger at a Michi­gan gro­cery store. One night, after hours, his co-work­er was shot and killed dur­ing a rob­bery. Pare­des, who main­tains his inno­cence, was charged as an adult and con­vict­ed in a wide­ly pub­li­cized 1989 tri­al, in which the rap lyrics he copied into a high school note­book were used against him as evi­dence of pre­med­i­ta­tion. The judge gave Pare­des the manda­to­ry sen­tence for first-degree mur­der in Michi­gan: life with­out parole. 

More than two decades lat­er, the U.S. Supreme Court began a series of deci­sions that would all but deem that sen­tence uncon­sti­tu­tion­al for minors. But of the more than 2,800 peo­ple sen­tenced to life with­out parole as juve­niles in the Unit­ed States, approx­i­mate­ly 2,150 remain in prison, includ­ing Paredes.

The Court decid­ed, in 2010, that juve­nile life with­out parole” (JLWOP) is an uncon­sti­tu­tion­al sen­tence for crimes oth­er than homi­cide. In 2012, in Miller v. Alaba­ma, the Court pro­hib­it­ed JLWOP as a manda­to­ry min­i­mum sen­tence for any crime but did not ban it out­right. Final­ly, in 2016, Mont­gomery v. Louisiana made the Miller deci­sion retroac­tive, rul­ing that peo­ple like Pare­des must be giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to show their crime did not reflect irrepara­ble cor­rup­tion; and, if it did not, their hope for some years of life out­side prison walls must be restored.”

I was cau­tious­ly opti­mistic,” Pare­des recalls. For years, Pare­des advo­cat­ed from behind bars against long sen­tences for chil­dren. I knew that it was a good opin­ion. I was hap­py that they made it retroac­tive. What I was not hap­py with was how they still left so much room for misinterpretation.”

Pare­des was right to be con­cerned. The Mont­gomery deci­sion was unclear on how indi­vid­ual states should imple­ment the rul­ing. Some states auto­mat­i­cal­ly grant­ed parole eli­gi­bil­i­ty to any­one with a JLWOP sen­tence (after a cer­tain num­ber of years served), while oth­ers arranged indi­vid­ual resen­tenc­ing hear­ings. And some states with­held resen­tenc­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties in cas­es in which JLWOP was not giv­en as a manda­to­ry minimum.

Today, about 700 peo­ple are still wait­ing for the resen­tenc­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty they were promised in 2016. Anoth­er 1,450 have been giv­en reduced sen­tences but remain incar­cer­at­ed; some have become parole-eli­gi­ble but have been denied parole. Oth­ers’ new sen­tences are so long, they will not be parole-eli­gi­ble for decades. And so far, about 85 have had their life-with­out-parole sen­tences reaffirmed.

Espe­cial­ly now, as Covid-19 is spread­ing rapid­ly in pris­ons, such dif­fer­ences can mean life or death.

It can feel like jus­tice by geog­ra­phy,” Mar­sha Lev­ick, chief legal offi­cer of Juve­nile Law Cen­ter (JLC), tells In These Times.

Efrén Paredes Jr. (shown here as a youth and adult) was sentenced to life without parole at age 16. He awaits a hearing to review his sentence in October. EMMANUEL IGNATIUS BWIBO
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A Long Wait for Resentencing

Even before the Supreme Court deci­sions, JLWOP sen­tences were poor­ly tracked, heav­i­ly con­cen­trat­ed in par­tic­u­lar regions and split along racial lines. 

JLWOP reflects deep racial dis­par­i­ties in our crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem and has been imposed dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly on youth of col­or, par­tic­u­lar­ly Black chil­dren,” says Rebec­ca Turn­er, lit­i­ga­tion coun­sel at the Cam­paign for the Fair Sen­tenc­ing of Youth (CFSY).

2015 analy­sis by the Phillips Black Project found that Black chil­dren were twice as like­ly as white chil­dren to be sen­tenced to JLWOP for the same crime. By 2016, peo­ple of col­or made up 38% of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion and 77% of those serv­ing JLWOP sen­tences. Peo­ple of col­or had 80% of JLWOP sen­tences in Penn­syl­va­nia, 73% in Michi­gan and 81% in Louisiana, the three lead­ing JLWOP states.

Pri­or to the Mont­gomery rul­ing, Penn­syl­va­nia, Michi­gan and Louisiana account­ed for more than two-thirds of the nation’s JLWOP sen­tences. These states, com­bined with Cal­i­for­nia, Flori­da, Mis­souri, Illi­nois, North Car­oli­na and Mis­sis­sip­pi, were respon­si­ble for about 81%. Vari­a­tion exists even at the coun­ty lev­el, where some dis­trict attor­neys make a habit of bring­ing more severe charges and seek­ing harsh­er sentences.

After being sen­tenced to life with­out parole at 16, Pare­des was booked into the Michi­gan Refor­ma­to­ry, an adult facil­i­ty. He says sev­er­al old­er men took him under their wings and helped him nav­i­gate prison life. Pare­des says he found solace in edu­cat­ing myself, and immers­ing myself in books, and learn­ing and grow­ing, and just doing every­thing I can to main­tain my san­i­ty, and learn­ing to become a bet­ter ver­sion of myself all the time.”

"Educating myself, and immersing myself in books, and learning and growing, and just doing everything I can to maintain my sanity, and learning to become a better version of myself all the time.” —EFRÉN PAREDES JR.

In prison, Pare­des earned his GED and began tak­ing col­lege cours­es. He has tran­scribed text­books into Braille, worked as a teacher’s aide, writ­ten advo­ca­cy blog posts, and pored over aca­d­e­m­ic crim­i­nal jus­tice arti­cles in the law library. Unlike many peo­ple serv­ing JLWOP, who have grown into mid­dle age with­out ever hav­ing the chance to form roman­tic rela­tion­ships, Pare­des found love while incar­cer­at­ed and is mar­ried with a young daughter.

After the Mont­gomery deci­sion in 2016, Michigan’s leg­is­la­ture required dis­trict attor­neys to review every JLWOP sen­tence that had been giv­en as a manda­to­ry min­i­mum. For each, they could rec­om­mend reaf­firm­ing the sen­tence or reduc­ing the sen­tence with­in cer­tain para­me­ters. Giv­en this choice, pros­e­cu­tors across the state ini­tial­ly rec­om­mend­ed life with­out parole for two-thirds of their 354 cas­es (though some of these rec­om­men­da­tions have since been short­ened). Those rec­om­mend­ed for life with­out parole were put at the back of the line for resentencing.

In Berrien Coun­ty, Mich., pros­e­cut­ing attor­ney Michael Sepic — the same attor­ney who pros­e­cut­ed Pare­des’ orig­i­nal case — rec­om­mend­ed reaf­firm­ing the sen­tences in eight of 12 JLWOP cas­es, includ­ing for Paredes.

Sepic told In These Times in July that his office made sen­tenc­ing rec­om­men­da­tions after con­sid­er­ing the individual’s role in the crime, back­ground and prison record. I took four [peo­ple] off the table, but the oth­er eight, I felt as a pros­e­cu­tor, that they should serve that time in prison, life with­out parole,” he says. He argues JLWOP will still be rare, as required by the Supreme Court — when com­pared against the total num­ber of juve­niles in the county.

As of August, more than four years after Mont­gomery, 166 peo­ple were still wait­ing for resen­tenc­ing hear­ings in Michigan.

The con­se­quences of resen­tenc­ing delays can be heart­break­ing, made even more urgent in the time of the coro­n­avirus. William Gar­ri­son, for exam­ple, served 44 years of a life sen­tence he received at 16 in Wayne Coun­ty, Mich. Gar­ri­son received a reduced sen­tence in Jan­u­ary and planned to move in with his sis­ter in May. In April, 24 days before his expect­ed release, he died of Covid-19.

In Louisiana, a 2017 law made any­one who was sen­tenced to manda­to­ry JLWOP eli­gi­ble for a parole hear­ing after serv­ing 25 years — unless the dis­trict attor­ney want­ed to reaf­firm the sen­tence, which would result in a resen­tenc­ing hear­ing. Dis­trict attor­neys sought life with­out parole in about a third of 300 cas­es. As of June, around 80 peo­ple were still await­ing hear­ings. Sim­i­lar­ly, in North Car­oli­na, 43 of 94 peo­ple serv­ing JLWOP sen­tences are still await­ing hearings.

In total, around 700 peo­ple through­out the Unit­ed States have yet to be resentenced.

Pare­des’ hear­ing is sched­uled for Octo­ber. Despite the pros­e­cut­ing attor­ney seek­ing to reaf­firm his sen­tence, Pare­des is hope­ful. It feels good to know that things are final­ly mov­ing along after an 8.5‑year, gru­el­ing wait­ing process,” he writes to In These Times . My team will be able to present a com­pelling case of why I am deserv­ing of a term-of-year sen­tence, and the oppor­tu­ni­ty to reunite with my fam­i­ly and become a full-time father to my schoolage daughter.”

Julis Perales (shown here as a youth) has been in prison since age 17. Texas converted his mandatory life sentence to a minimum 40 year—tantamount, potentially, to the same thing. EMMANUEL IGNATIUS BWIBO
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A New, Lengthy Sentence

Julis Perales, then 17, helped rob a Texas con­ve­nience store in 2005. One of his accom­plices shot and killed the store clerk. Perales declined a plea deal of 25 to life and was tried for first-degree mur­der, even though he did not pull the trig­ger. He was con­vict­ed and received a manda­to­ry min­i­mum sen­tence of life with­out parole. 

When Perales heard about the Miller rul­ing, which he calls a phe­nom­e­nal moment for the nation at large and for me and my loved ones,” he took to the law library. In 2013, he appealed his sen­tence as uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, hop­ing he would be grant­ed a hear­ing before a jury that would con­sid­er his child­hood, the influ­ence of his peers and his role in the crime.

I couldn’t accept the fate of dying in prison for a mis­take of choos­ing to com­mit a rob­bery, where it wasn’t my inten­tion that any­body be hurt, much [less] killed,” Perales writes to In These Times.

The Texas Court of Crim­i­nal Appeals agreed that Perales’ sen­tence is uncon­sti­tu­tion­al. But instead of indi­vid­u­al­ized resen­tenc­ing, the Texas leg­is­la­ture sim­ply con­vert­ed the state’s 27 JLWOP sen­tences, includ­ing Perales’, to 40 years to life. Perales’ new sen­tence makes him eli­gi­ble for parole at 57. He con­sid­ers his sen­tence essen­tial­ly unchanged.

I was com­plete­ly dev­as­tat­ed,” Perales says. I was even more crushed with this new sen­tence than with the first. Con­sid­er­ing that a light of hope was shin­ing, that since I’ve been in prison I’ve been doing all the things nec­es­sary to get myself togeth­er and learn­ing what was nec­es­sary to attain the relief I feel I deserve. Putting forth my best efforts along all lines and being slammed like that again, I felt like a com­plete fail­ure. … I felt com­plete­ly pow­er­less and hopeless.”

Peo­ple around the coun­try have chal­lenged lengthy new sen­tences, includ­ing renewed life with­out parole, claim­ing they vio­late the spir­it of Miller and Mont­gomery.

Perales says he has not giv­en up his fight. He sup­ports Texas’ Sec­ond Look bill — which has died in the leg­is­la­ture three times — which would make any­one incar­cer­at­ed as a child eli­gi­ble for parole after 20 years.

"I couldn’t accept the fate of dying in prison for a mistake of choosing to commit a robbery, where it wasn’t my intention that anybody be hurt,much [less] killed.” —JULIS PERALES
Julis Perales (shown here as an adult with his family) EMMANUEL IGNATIUS BWIBO
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Wait­ing for Parole

In 1989, the same year Efrén Pare­des was sen­tenced to life, Tino Wed­low says he was paid $75 by anoth­er kid in Kansas City, Mo., to watch for cops while a third per­son beat some­one up.

My only role was to be a look­out,” says Wed­low, who was 17.

Wed­low says he had no idea the third per­son was going to throw a gaso­line bomb through the win­dow of a house, which killed six peo­ple, includ­ing chil­dren. The police, mean­while, said Wed­low was involved in set­ting the fire. Fear­ing the death penal­ty, he took a plea deal: life with­out parole.

I had nev­er been in trou­ble a day in my life,” Wed­low says. I don’t have [a] juve­nile record, none of that. I just made one poor deci­sion when I was a kid.”

Mis­souri is one of sev­er­al states — includ­ing Cal­i­for­nia, West Vir­ginia, Neva­da, Vir­ginia, Arkansas and Con­necti­cut — whose leg­is­la­ture grant­ed retroac­tive parole eli­gi­bil­i­ty, after a cer­tain num­ber of years behind bars, for peo­ple sen­tenced as children.

But eli­gi­bil­i­ty hasn’t always meant free­dom. The process varies by state, but parole boards, often appoint­ed by the gov­er­nor, are gen­er­al­ly sup­posed to con­sid­er whether a per­son is reha­bil­i­tat­ed. As the ACLU found in a 2016 report, how­ev­er, parole boards instead gen­er­al­ly rehash the details of the orig­i­nal case.

In Mis­souri, where all 100-some JLWOP sen­tences were con­vert­ed to 25 to life, the parole board remains a road­block. Wed­low had a parole hear­ing in Feb­ru­ary 2017, a 10-minute video call.

It wasn’t noth­ing about my matu­ri­ty, how I was raised and brought up,” Wed­low says. It was all about case ques­tions and my prison con­duct. I was able to make it to the hon­or dorm. I haven’t had a major vio­la­tion since the ear­ly 90s. And that’s the only thing they kept bring­ing up, was some vio­la­tions from when I was 21 years old. In 2017, I’m in front of you, you’re bring­ing up stuff that hap­pened in 93. I’m almost 50.”

Two weeks lat­er, Wed­low received a form denial let­ter with the promise of a sec­ond parole hear­ing in five more years. The Mis­souri parole board approved just three of the first 23 JLWOP lif­ers who appeared.

In response, four Mis­souri men filed a class action against the Mis­souri Parole Board, argu­ing their rights under Mont­gomery were being denied. In 2018, a U.S. dis­trict judge ruled in their favor, order­ing new parole hear­ings for Missouri’s JLWOP cas­es — and order­ing the board to con­sid­er fac­tors beyond the orig­i­nal crimes. Parole hear­ings began mov­ing for­ward under this new direc­tion in July (though the board is appeal­ing the dis­trict court’s deci­sion). As of August, the board had not yet released its new decisions.

It’s very incon­sis­tent in terms of parole avail­abil­i­ty,” Mar­sha Lev­ick says. In Wis­con­sin and Mary­land, for exam­ple, class actions have been brought by peo­ple who argue their states’ low release rates effec­tive­ly turn their parole-eli­gi­ble life sen­tences into JLWOP cas­es. In Louisiana, where dozens of juve­nile lif­ers have been paroled, 74-year-old Hen­ry Mont­gomery, the man who brought the Mont­gomery case, has been denied twice and remains behind bars. Specifics also vary regard­ing when parole eli­gi­bil­i­ty even starts.

Wedlow’s new parole hear­ing is sched­uled for March 2021. He hopes to dis­cuss the chal­lenges he has over­come and demon­strate the per­son he is today. It takes more than 10 min­utes to go over every­thing that the Miller case said to do,” Wed­low says. They didn’t ask any­thing about the per­son, how you was brought up and raised, if you was neglect­ed and phys­i­cal­ly abused as a child, which I was.”

Even if Wed­low is grant­ed parole, his ear­li­est release would like­ly be in 2022, at age 50. He then hopes to find a job, recon­nect with fam­i­ly mem­bers and pur­sue a relationship.

Bernardo Burnside (shown here as a youth and adult with his dog) was sentenced to life in 1994. After a resentencing, he became parole-eligible on 25 years served. EMMANUEL IGNATIUS BWIBO
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Bit­ter­sweet Freedom 

In 1994, Bernar­do Burn­side received a manda­to­ry sen­tence of life with­out parole in Philadel­phia, for homi­cide, at age 16. For­mer­ly the nation’s leader in JLWOP sen­tenc­ing, Penn­syl­va­nia has become a leader in resen­tenc­ing — par­tic­u­lar­ly in Philadel­phia County.

By August, Penn­syl­va­nia had held indi­vid­ual resen­tenc­ing hear­ings for 460 of 521 peo­ple serv­ing JLWOP sen­tences, accord­ing to Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions data. Pennsylvania’s parole board approved 70% of those eli­gi­ble: 241 people.

Recidi­vism among those released after JLWOP sen­tences is rare. Of the 174 peo­ple released in Philadel­phia by the end of 2019, only two had been con­vict­ed of any new offens­es. In Michi­gan, where 119 peo­ple have been released, none have vio­lat­ed parole or recidivated.

After Burnside’s 2018 resen­tenc­ing hear­ing, for which he was assigned an attor­ney and mit­i­ga­tion expert, a judge reduced his sen­tence to 25 to life — mak­ing him parole-eli­gi­ble based on time already served. With­in four months, he became one of near­ly 650 peo­ple around the coun­try released after being sen­tenced to JLWOP.

Burn­side went home July 17, 2018, on the eighth anniver­sary of his mother’s death. That same day that I came out, it start­ed rain­ing,” he says. And the only thing I could do was just stand there and look at the sky. Peo­ple were like, That’s your mom, cry­ing. She’s hap­py for you.’ It was a blessing.”

At first, things went well. Burn­side found a job mak­ing more than $800 a month as a jan­i­tor at an apart­ment com­plex. With an income, he qual­i­fied for a hous­ing assis­tance pro­gram. He took over his own lease after six months.

I was able to take care of my rent, pay my cell phone bill and still have mon­ey saved aside,” Burn­side says. But when new man­age­ment learned about his past, they fired him. He says he was hired and almost imme­di­ate­ly let go from two oth­er jobs, at a bak­ery and as a home health aide. While Philadelphia’s ban the box” law pre­vents employ­ers from ask­ing about crim­i­nal records on job appli­ca­tions, they can do back­ground checks later.

The Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions told us when we came home that our back­grounds wouldn’t be held against us,” Burn­side says, but he believes he would not have been fired if not for his back­ground. I thought I was going to be able to come out here and get a nice job and start liv­ing — I don’t want to say a nor­mal life, but a peace­ful life. But it hasn’t been that.”

Burn­side found temp work, but the hours were spot­ty and all but dis­ap­peared dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. He con­stant­ly applies for jobs, but an injury has made find­ing work even hard­er. He is months behind on rent and his pan­dem­ic stim­u­lus check did not cov­er his bills. I have nowhere to go,” he says. If I lose my apart­ment — excuse my lan­guage, but I’m shit out of luck.”

Hav­ing a first- or sec­ond-degree homi­cide con­vic­tion on your record presents a huge bar­ri­er to access­ing mean­ing­ful long-term employ­ment,” says Joan­na Viss­er Adjoian, co-direc­tor of the Youth Sen­tenc­ing & Reen­try Project (YSRP). YSRP helps a sub­set of Philadelphia’s juve­nile lif­ers nav­i­gate the resen­tenc­ing process and helps for­mer lif­ers build com­mu­ni­ty and find resources and jobs.

“That same day that I came out, it started raining. The only thing I could do was just stand there and look at the sky. People were like, ‘That’s your mom, crying. She’s happy for you.’ It was a blessing.” —BERNARDO BURNSIDE

Why are peo­ple being suc­cess­ful and … not going back [to prison]?” asks YSRP Reen­try Coor­di­na­tor John Pace, who was resen­tenced from JLWOP and released in 2017. It’s about the resilien­cy of the indi­vid­ual, being appre­cia­tive of the oppor­tu­ni­ty and tak­ing advan­tage of it.”

Sim­i­lar­ly, the Louisiana Parole Project helps peo­ple who have long juve­nile sen­tences pre­pare for parole hear­ings and pro­vides sup­port after release. Paroled clients receive tem­po­rary hous­ing, men­tor­ship, help access­ing insur­ance and ben­e­fits, and case man­age­ment. Clients take class­es to catch up on every­thing from per­son­al finance to how cell phones and email work to new social norms after decades of change.

One of our attor­neys called it Rip Van Win­kle syn­drome,’” says Deputy Direc­tor Ker­ry Myers, who him­self spent decades in prison.

Myers says none of the Parole Project’s 137 released clients have been rear­rest­ed. Many of our clients are now employed, mar­ried, have fam­i­lies,” he says. A cou­ple of them are becom­ing home­own­ers.” The orga­ni­za­tion also helps clients find work and apply for sub­si­dized housing.

We want this pro­gram to show what we all know the data says — that they’re gen­er­al­ly low-risk and just have high needs,” Myers says. It’s not a pub­lic safe­ty issue or threat to release them, as long as they have the right resources when they come out.”

I take full respon­si­bil­i­ty for what I did,” says Burn­side. I wasn’t think­ing. I just want­ed to fit in.” Now, he says, I’m not the same per­son. I think for myself. I stand on my own two feet. And I’m proud to say, you know, I’m doing what a man is sup­posed to do. I’m out here, tak­ing responsibility.”

Despite the chal­lenges, Burn­side is grate­ful. One of the best things is sleep­ing in a soft bed,” he says. Tak­ing a bath — not a show­er all the time. Pick­ing my own food, eat­ing when I want to eat, being able to just walk out my front door… I don’t take much for grant­ed being out here. … I have a dog, a lit­tle pit bull. Being home and just sit­ting in bed, I’m con­tent. He can’t talk back to me but he lis­tens. I’m just grate­ful for the lit­tle things.

It’s been a bless­ing,” he adds. But it’s also been a letdown.”

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The Next Step

Despite evi­dence that juve­nile offend­ers are unlike­ly to reof­fend, some states con­tin­ue to give chil­dren JLWOP sen­tences. In Louisiana, 57% of chil­dren sen­tenced for mur­der since the Miller deci­sion have been sen­tenced to life with­out parole, accord­ing to the Louisiana Cen­ter for Children’s Rights. Even the 23 states that have abol­ished JLWOP con­tin­ue to give chil­dren lengthy sen­tences: Around the coun­try, some 7,300 peo­ple are serv­ing life (with parole) for crimes com­mit­ted as children.

We’re a very ret­ribu­tive cul­ture,” Lev­ick says. We think of our crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem as hav­ing, for the most part, no oth­er pur­pose than pun­ish­ment and ret­ri­bu­tion. Reha­bil­i­ta­tion almost nev­er comes up. … The fun­da­men­tal ques­tion is, what does jus­tice mean? And we need to change how we answer that question.”

JLC and CFSY sup­port a ban on sen­tenc­ing chil­dren to life in prison with­out parole.

As an orga­ni­za­tion, we believe that chil­dren are fun­da­men­tal­ly dif­fer­ent from adults, they have an innate capac­i­ty for pos­i­tive growth and change, and they should nev­er be sen­tenced to die in prison,” says Rebec­ca Turn­er, of CFSY.

Mean­while, the U.S. Supreme Court has not fin­ished weigh­ing in. In addi­tion to chal­lenges over lengthy sen­tences for chil­dren, anoth­er key ques­tion is whether Mont­gomery applies to dis­cre­tionary” JLWOP sen­tences, the life sen­tences that were not manda­to­ry min­i­mums. Advo­cates inter­pret the deci­sions to mean all JLWOP sen­tences are uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, unless a court specif­i­cal­ly finds an indi­vid­ual incor­ri­gi­ble.”

In March, the Supreme Court took a case that will add some clar­i­ty. Brett Jones was sen­tenced to JLWOP for killing his grand­fa­ther in Mis­sis­sip­pi in 2004, when Jones was 15. After Miller, Jones had a hear­ing that reaf­firmed his sen­tence. Jones v. Mis­sis­sip­pi specif­i­cal­ly asks the Court whether a sen­tenc­ing author­i­ty is required to make a find­ing that a juve­nile is per­ma­nent­ly incor­ri­gi­ble before impos­ing a sen­tence of life with­out parole.” Oral argu­ments will like­ly begin in Novem­ber and have impli­ca­tions around the country.

Pare­des is watch­ing close­ly. They said it eight times in Miller, that you can’t give life with­out parole to any­one, unless they’re irrepara­bly cor­rupt’ or per­ma­nent­ly incor­ri­gi­ble’ or inca­pable of change,’” Pare­des says. And six times, they said [JLWOP] … has to be [for] a rare indi­vid­ual.’ It’s clear what the Court has said. … And ulti­mate­ly, the Supreme Court is going to rule that we’re right.”

This arti­cle was sup­port­ed by a grant from the Leonard C. Good­man Insti­tute for Inves­tiga­tive Report­ing. Fact-check­ing was pro­vid­ed by Mad­die Cruz.

Katie Rose Quandt is a Brook­lyn-based reporter who writes about social jus­tice, pris­ons and inequal­i­ty. Her work has appeared in Slate, Moth­er Jones, Bill​Moy​ers​.com and In These Times.

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