U.S. Supreme Court:
- Miller v. Alabama: The United States is currently the only country in the world where juveniles can be sentenced to die in prison. But the United States Supreme Court heard arguments in March to determine whether a life sentence imposed on a youth who committed a murder at age 14 constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. The Court has already struck down the death penalty for juvenile offenders, and life without parole is not available for juveniles who commit non-homicide offenses. Read Lauren Steinberg's articlediscussing the issue in "Don't put Juveniles in jail for life" on CNN.com: http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/19/opinion/steinberg-juvenile-crime/index.html
- Missouri v. Frye & Lafler v. Cooper: The United States Supreme Court ruled in March that defendants have a constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel in plea bargains. The Court pointed out that plea bargaining is the primary route to conviction today, and that effective assistance of counsel therefore must address that process. There is great potential for application of this decision to juvenile pleas as well.
- In re CP: On April 2, The Supreme Court of Ohio ruled that automatic lifelong registration requirements for juvenile sex offenders constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment, as well as violate due process. Read the summary of the case at the Supreme Court of Ohio's website here. Missouri also took recent steps to change sex offender registry laws, allowing petitions for removal from the registry for both adults and juveniles. Read about the Missouri changes at therepublic.com.