U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Argument in EJI Appeal Challenging Death-in-Prison Sentences for Children


In two cases at the United States Supreme Court on March 20, 2012, EJI Director Bryan Stevenson will argue that the life imprisonment without parole sentences imposed on Evan Miller and Kuntrell Jackson constitute cruel and unusual punishment that violates the Constitution.

On November 7, 2011, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal filed by EJI which asks the Court to extend protections for children sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.

In Jackson v. Hobbs, the Arkansas Supreme Court upheld a death-in-prison sentence imposed on a 14-year-old who was convicted of an unintentional killing where he was not the triggerman.

In Miller v. Alabama, an Alabama appeals court upheld a sentence of life imprisonment without parole imposed on a 14-year-old convicted of intentional murder.

Both sentences were mandatory and did not permit any consideration of the juvenile’s age or adolescent status.

A dozen friend-of-the-court briefs have been filed in the Supreme Court in support of Miller and Jackson. The briefs were filed on behalf of diverse organizations and professionals, including the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Probation and Parole Association, the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators, former juvenile court judges, and family members of victims of juvenile crimes.

The Court ordered the cases to be argued in tandem.