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Jones v. Mississippi (U.S. Supreme Court, April 22, 2021): In a majority opinion drafted by Justice Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court held by 6–3 that juveniles may be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole without requiring judges to make a finding of “permanent incorrigibility.” The Court held that this does not violate the Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment. The petitioner, Brett Jones, who was convicted of murder at age 15 and sentenced to life without parole, asserted that the Supreme Court’s rulings in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012) and Montgomery v. Louisiana, 577 U.S. 190 (2016) prevent a judge from ordering a prison sentence of life without parole unless first finding that a person is permanently incorrigible. In the majority opinion, Justice Kavanaugh argues that this is a misinterpretation of the prior case law and that those cases simply require a judge to consider a defendant’s age as one factor when issuing the sentence. Justice Sotomayor issued a scathing dissent noting that the Court “guts” precedents that have strictly limited juvenile life without parole sentences, and “distorts” those cases “beyond recognition.” Read the full Opinion here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – May 14, 2021.

View all cases under “Constitutional Rights & the Public’s Health.”