Today EJI argues at the United States Supreme Court on behalf of Petitioner Joe Sullivan in Sullivan v. Florida, which challenges the imposition of life-without-parole sentences on young adolescents.
Bryan Stevenson is arguing counsel for Joe Sullivan. Argument in Sullivan will follow argument in a separate case, Graham v. Florida, which challenges life-without-parole sentences for 16- and 17-year-olds for non-homicide offenses.
Joe is one of only two 13-year-olds in the country sentenced to die in prison for a non-homicide offense. Nationwide, there are only nine people sentenced to life without parole for crimes at age 13, and only 73 for crimes at 13 or 14 years old.
The United States is the only country in the world with people condemned to die in prison for offenses committed when they were children.
This indisputably rare sentence, EJI argues, is cruel when imposed on children. Joe Sullivan was sent to an adult prison, where he was brutally assaulted. Now 33 years old, Joe suffers from mental disabilities and is in a wheelchair due to a progressive form of multiple sclerosis.
EJI argues in Sullivan that life-without-parole sentences imposed on young adolescents are unconstitutional.