Thursday, August 9, 2012

States Respond to the U.S. Supreme Court Decision on Juvenile Life Sentences

On June 25, 2012, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its ruling in Miller v. Alabama.  The Court held mandatory life sentences for juveniles without the possibility of parole are unconstitutional.  The Court reasoned that “[w]hile a mandatory life sentence for adults does not violate the Eighth Amendment, such a sentence would be an unconstitutionally disproportionate punishment for children.”  Furthermore, the Court added  the punishment should be proportioned to the offense and the offender.  Miller is a victory for juvenile justice advocates, but the fight continues.  Miller abolishes mandatory juvenile life without parole sentences, but it still permits a judge to sentence a juvenile to life without parole.  It is time for the United States to completely abolish juvenile life without parole sentences.  The court’s focus for juvenile offenders should be rehabilitation.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Legislation and the Beat Cop: Is Stop-and-Frisk Coming to San Francisco?

Amid continuing national controversy and judicial disapproval, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is standing firmly behind a stop-and-frisk policy similar to one already implemented by New York City.  The policy would allow law enforcement officers to stop and search anyone they considered suspicious.  Proponents of the policy cite crime prevention as the driving force during a period of increased homicides in the city. Opponents, on the other hand, are more concerned about a potential increase in racial profiling and lack of proof that such policies would indeed prevent crimes.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

DNA Recording: The Court Allows Maryland to Continue Collecting and Testing DNA Samples from People Who Are Arrested.

On Monday, July 30, Chief Justice Roberts issued a stay to allow Maryland to continue sampling and testing DNA from people who have been arrested, but not yet convicted, of a crime.  This practice came under fire in 2009 when Alonzo Jay King, Jr., was arrested for assault.  During the booking process, personnel at the Wicomico County Central Booking facility took a sample of King’s DNA.  Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division processed the sample and entered it into the Maryland DNA database.  The database matched the sample to a rape that was committed in 2003.  Following this match, King was charged and convicted of that rape.