The family members and friends, for whom the only important question is: why do I deserve a second chance? Retroactive application of Miller is a major victory, but is not the end of the journey for these individual defendants. A child psychologist interviewed Cristian and reported that he had been subjected to significant physical and sexual abuse. Miller has been locked up since he was 14 for the July 2003 killing of … The issue in State v. Castaneda4 was Nebraska-specific. The Court also failed to establish guidelines or a defined list of factors for determining when a life-without-parole sentence does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The Nebraska Supreme Court also very recently issued its ruling in the context of three individual cases. The U.S. Supreme Court has declared that mandatory life sentences without a possibility of parole for such youth are unconstitutional. He took part in a robbery in which two men were killed. The dissenting opinion in Miller expressed concern that, if challenged, the majority would not uphold any life-without-parole sentence for a juvenile defendant. It updates OLR Report 2014-R-0108.. SUMMARY. In the 2012 case Miller v. Alabama, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized adolescents’ “diminished culpability and heightened capacity for change ” 2 and ruled that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for those who committed their crimes before the age of 18 are unconstitutional. Cristian’s stepfather was violently abusive. “I hear the people who ask: What about your victim? As such, individuals sentenced under that scheme are subject to Miller. On appeal, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the lower court's decision. The decision was based on the distinctive attributes of youth including immaturity, vulnerability to negative influences, and lack of character formation. Current laws in Arkansas, Alabama and other states require judges to impose a life-without-parole sentence for capital murder. The Nebraska Supreme Court recently considered three cases directly addressing the relation of Miller to individual cases. The trial court denied the motion. He was sentenced to five consecutive life sentences without parole. Even the possibility of a second chance. The law also requires judges to consider factors that could mitigate the youth’s responsibility.11, The two defendants in the other cases, who were convicted for shooting deaths they participated in at ages 15 and 17, also will be resentenced under the new law. Miller v. Alabama follows from Graham’s holding that sentencing a juvenile to life without parole for crimes, except murder, is unconstitutional. The judge “reduced” his sentenced to 100 years in prison.8, Alternatively, the California Supreme Court recently found that Graham should be more liberally applied. The tide has turned with respect to life sentences for crimes committed by youth under the age of 18. If our system is not, ultimately, to be based on vengeance, we need to recognize that potential for change, and give it the opportunity to take place.”14, 1. 2, Another convicted juvenile murderer, Trina Garnett, was also only 14 years old when she was convicted of arson murder and received two mandatory life sentences without parole. Statement of the Facts: Evan Miller, age 14, and an accomplice killed Cole Cannon in 2003. If given the opportunity, I hope one day to help young kids stay away from gangs and their lies—kids that think there’s no way out, as I did in my youth. Still, he was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole; the youngest individual in Orange County at that time to ever receive such a harsh sentence. Seeking Resentencing in the Wake of Miller v. Alabama: Adolfo Davis. Miller v. Alabama Case Brief. Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that mandatory sentences of life without the possibility of parole are unconstitutional for juvenile offenders. He will now return to court to be resentenced under a law passed last year, in the wake of Miller, which allows sentences from 40 years to life for his crime. He was a scrawny kid who was teased because he often wore the same clothes to school.”7 He also has an inspiring story of turning his life around in prison; renouncing gangs and encouraging young people to do the same, writing poetry, and even getting engaged. If the decision is applied retroactively, juvenile offenders currently serving life-without-parole sentences will be permitted to petition the court for resentencing.5, Pennsylvania will likely be the first state to litigate the retroactivity issue. Families Decry Supreme Court Decision on Juvenile Life Without Parole, The Daily Beast, available at, 5. What is important to note, however, is that this case still allows for life-without-parole sentences for juvenile murderers. His father was absent, and his mother was a drug addict. In Miller, the Court held that a sentencing regime that makes life without parole mandatory for a murder committed by a defendant under the age of 18 is cruel and unusual punishment. Families are mourning still, even as I write this. This stands in contrast to some other state supreme courts that have held it is a “procedural” rule and thus does not apply retroactively to those with final sentences. The issue in State v. Castaneda12 was Nebraska-specific. Miller reflects changing attitudes and evolving standards of decency. ISSUE This report summarizes how state legislatures and other courts have responded to the United States Supreme Court ' s 2012 ruling in Miller v. Alabama.. Forced to live on the streets, Trina lit a fire too close to a building, which resulted in the death of two children. As some commentators have noted, the fact that this decision is part of a deep split among state supreme courts makes it prime material for appeal to the United States Supreme Court.2, The defendant in the case, Doug Mantich, now 37, was convicted of a 1993 Omaha carjacking that resulted in the shooting of Henry “Hank” Thompson, 20. His first suicide attempt occurred when he was only six years old and should have been in kindergarten. The court found that the Miller ruling resulted in a “substantive” change to sentencing law, meaning it does apply to those inmates retroactively. Miller v. Alabama: Something Unconsitutional Now Was Equally Unconstitutional Then W. Patrick Conlon ... possibility of receiving resentencing hearings and reentering society. The key is that such sentences cannot be mandatory. Now that the Court has held that mandatory life-without-parole sentences are “cruel and unusual,” juvenile defendants are likely to challenge the proportionality of any life-without-parole sentence.