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Is Juvenile Life without Parole Cruel and Unusual? Part 3 of 3

Attorneys at Law Timlin & Rye Sept. 3, 2014

In this 3 part blog, I’ve discussed the US Supreme Court and the aftermath of Juvenile Life without Parole cases around the country. In this blog, we discuss what’s happening with JLWOP in our home state of Colorado. Part 1 and Part 2

The Colorado Supreme Court currently has 3 cases before it dealing with JLWOP. The first two cases, Colorado v. Tate and Banks v. Colorado, deal with whether juveniles serving life without parole sentences should be re-sentenced because of the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Miller.

The Colorado cases are slightly different from the other states we’ve talked about because Colorado’s mandatory juvenile life sentence law allows for the possibility of parole after 40 years.

The question asked is whether parole after 40 years gives a kid who went into prison at the age of 14 or 15 any real chance at life. Would a teenager really learn anything about being an adult in the world from behind bars?

In the Tate case, the Colorado Court of Appeals held that Tate should be re-sentenced. The prosecution argues on appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court that re-sentencing should have been denied because Tate would be eligible for parole after 40 years.

Another case before the Colorado Supreme Court, Jensen v. Colorado, deals with whether a juvenile in Colorado can ever be sentenced to life without parole. The Jensen v. Colorado case is an important case because it takes things one step further than the US Supreme Court. Remember, the US court only said that mandatory JWLOP sentences are unconstitutional, but didn’t ban them completely.

If the Colorado Supreme Court rules that JLWOP is unconstitutional, it will be the first state completely banning JLWOP. If the court rules in favor of juveniles in any of these cases, it would be considered a huge milestone for Colorado in advancing juvenile rights. We are patiently awaiting the court’s rulings.

If you have any questions about this topic or need an attorney to help with your child, please call us or Email Us.

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