FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 25, 2012
For More Information, contact:
Joy Patterson (334) 242-7491
Alabama Attorney General
Suzanne Webb (334) 242-7351
Jeff Sommer (334) 353-2199
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STATEMENT OF ATTORNEY GENERAL LUTHER STRANGE
Regarding Supreme Court Ruling about Life-without-Parole for Juveniles
Today, in Miller v. Alabama, a 5-4 majority of the United States Supreme Court
held that the Constitution prevents the States from imposing mandatory life-without-
parole sentences on murderers who commit their crimes when they are under the age of 18.
We respect the Court and will of course follow its decision, but we profoundly
disagree with its reasoning and result.
It is rare that a juvenile commits the worst kind of murder. But when this
happens, the Alabama Legislature and most other American legislatures have
determined that the appropriate sentence is life without parole. And they have made
that sentence mandatory. Thus, it is hard to understand the Court’s ruling that this
sentencing procedure is “unusual” for the purposes of the Eighth Amendment.
But we are pleased that the Court rejected Mr. Miller’s broader argument that
juvenile murderers can never receive life without parole. The Court instead affirmed the
right of States to sentence the worst offenders to life-without-parole regardless of their
age, as long as the sentence is not mandatory. For this reason, we anticipate that the
Court’s decision will cause less of a disruption in Alabama’s system than the one Miller
had sought. Miller will have a new sentencing hearing, but in light of the facts of his
case, the prosecution will have a compelling argument that he should receive a life-
without-parole sentence. This decision should not affect the other juveniles serving this
sentence either, especially if their convictions and sentences are already final. Going
forward, these sentences will no longer be mandatory, but prosecutors will be able to
seek this sentence in appropriate cases.
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