SCOTUS today agreed to hear two cases out of Florida that will determine the constitutionality of sentencing juveniles in non-murder cases to life without parole (LWOP), Reuters reports:
The nation's high court agreed to hear two Florida cases, one involving a 13-year-old convicted of raping an elderly woman and the other involving a 17-year-old who took part in an armed home-invasion robbery while on probation for an earlier violent crime.
Their lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court and argued that life imprisonment, without the possibility of parole, for juveniles whose crimes did not involve murder violated the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
The Supreme Court in 2005 abolished the death penalty for juveniles.
The justices will consider in the two cases whether to extend that ruling to sentences of life without parole for juveniles convicted of crimes other than murder.
Doc Berman notes that in one of the cases before SCOTUS, a Florida youth sentenced to LWOP was actually sent to prison for a probation violation (!) after earlier committing armed robbery.
Meanwhile, Texas law only authorizes LWOP for juveniles in capital murder cases, but the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on Wednesday will consider SB 839 by Hinojosa to eliminate LWOP for juveniles entirely and substitute a 40-year minimum sentence. Most observers believed clearing the Senate was this bill's biggest hurdle and the legislation has an excellent chance of making it through the process and becoming law, thanks in part to assistance from some unlikely supporters.
SCOTUSBlog has the relevant legal materials from the Florida cases.