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Juvenile Sentencing Continues to Develop

The United States Supreme Court decided in the 2017 matter of Virginia v. LeBlanc that the law is still unsettled as to whether a Virginia geriatric statute is enough to satisfy the standard in Graham v. Florida that a juvenile convicted as an adult must be given a reasonable opportunity for release, showing that he has rehabilitated himself. This case involved a habeas corpus petition in which the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the trial court unreasonably applied Graham, and that habeas corpus was warranted.

The Supreme Court did not reach the question of whether Graham was violated by the Virginia geriatric statute. It held only that it is an issue upon which reasonable jurors can disagree. Their geriatric statute holds that one who reaches the age of 65 and has served at least five years or one who is 60 years old and has served at least ten years in prison can be eligible for parole. The Virginia courts held that this satisfies the teachings of Graham that a juvenile must be given a reasonable opportunity for release.

Read the opinion here:

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