When 241 Years Equals Life
Back in early December 2017, you read a post on this blog called “Rethinking Juvenile Thinking.” That post discussed the slow but steady elimination of “juvenile lifers” – juveniles tried as adults and given life sentences without the possibility of parole. In 2012, the Supreme Court declared that sentence for juveniles unconstitutional.
In 2016, the Supreme Court declared the same sentence retroactively unconstitutional. That began the slow but steady process of re-sentencing for all juvenile lifers in prison across the country. It is unfortunate that a separate Supreme Court decision was needed after four years to force a review of previous sentences of juvenile lifers. You would hope that common sense would lead Attorneys General in all 50 states to take this important step on their own. Sadly, some had to be forced.
And, more might still need to be done.
Acknowledging the Pain of Re-sentencing Juvenile Lifers:
Before going any further, it is important to give mention to the victims and families of victims. This has been a painful process for many of them. The justice they felt they were owed as a result of the crimes committed against them is being taken away during this re-sentencing process. And, quite frankly, perhaps some of these juveniles deserved life in prison.
The Frontline Dispatch from PBS showed us, though, that this is not universal. Late last year, they told the story of Samantha Broun – someone who fought for juvenile life sentences after her mother suffered trauma at the hands of Kempis Songster. As Songster grew up and became an adult in prison, Broun sought him out. As an acquaintanceship developed, Broun began to change her mind on juvenile life sentences.
With so many juvenile lifers going through the re-sentencing process, there is bound to be a broad spectrum of opinions on the subject. The strongest opinions are bound to be held by victims’ families.
Missouri’s Fight against Re-sentencing:
Regardless, the process continues – but not without some bumps along the way. Two weeks ago, the Associated Press reported that Missouri is fighting against re-sentencing for Bobby Bostic. Bobby was sentenced to 241 years in prison back in the late 1990s after committing 18 crimes on one particular day as a 16-year old.
Technically, Bostic is eligible for parole – when he turns 112. Because of this technicality, the state’s Attorney General is fighting against re-sentencing, saying that the Supreme Court’s decisions do not apply to Bostic since he has the possibility of parole and because he was charged with more than one crime.
This is technically true. Anyone who understands numbers and the human lifespan, however, knows that Bostic is essentially serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole due to crimes committed as a juvenile. The judge who sentenced Bostic two decades ago understands this and has come out for re-sentencing him.
You would hope that common sense would win out. Unfortunately, this is another instance in which the Supreme Court will likely have to intervene.
Admittedly, this is not an issue that specifically applies to most readers of this blog in the Central Virginia area. However, an error in judgment within the criminal justice system is a flaw that must still be addressed. Wrongful convictions and wrongful sentences – no matter the amount and severity of the crimes – must be fixed. Even if your case seems small, it deserves the best defense it can possibly be given. If this is your need, call or e-mail today for a free consultation!
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