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NACDL News: Calif. Supreme Court: Juvenile’s 110-Year Sentence ‘Cruel and Unusual’
By Jack King and Ivan J. Dominguez
NACDL News columns.
On Aug. 16, 2012, the California Supreme Court held that sentencing a juvenile to imprisonment – a term of years – with a parole eligibility date that falls past his natural life expectancy violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Graham v. Florida, which prohibited sentencing juveniles to life without parole for nonhomicide convictions, the California court unanimously agreed that Rodrigo Caballero’s sentence of 110 years to life for three attempted murders with bodily injury deprived him of “a meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.” The case is People v. Caballero, 282 P.3d 291 (Cal. 2012).
Rodrigo Caballero was 16 when he fired a handgun at three rival gang members, injuring one of them. According to the court, he would not become eligible for parole until 2112. The court interpreted Graham’s “flat ban” on life without parole sentences “applies
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