Brief filed: 06/12/2020
Jones v. Mississippi
United States Supreme Court; Case No. 18-1259
Decision below 2018 WL 10700848 (Miss. Nov. 27, 2018)
The Supreme Court has held that life without parole is appropriate only for a “permanently incorrigible” juvenile offender. States like Mississippi that do not require a finding of permanent incorrigibility are not reliably implementing that command because offenders receive life-without-parole sentences even if they are capable of change. Mississippi’s approach also produces arbitrary sentencing outcomes, because a juvenile’s sentence depends on whether his sentencer independently comprehends Miller, not on whether he is actually permanently incorrigible. States that require a finding of permanent incorrigibility ensure that juvenile offenders only receive life-without-parole sentences when the sentence is proportionate and lawful. Sentencers can still impose life-without-parole sentences when an offender is actually permanently incorrigible.
Ginger Anders, Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, Washington, DC; Teresa Reed Dippo, Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, San Francisco, CA; Barbara E. Bergman, NACDL, Tucson, AZ.