Life Without Parole Is (Something Completely) Different

The Supreme Court has repeatedly endorsed the concept that “death is different.” The phrase — and various versions of it — took center stage at today’s double-header argument on juvenile life without parole (Graham v. Florida and Sullivan v. Florida).
Everyone involved wanted a piece of it.
The famous “death is different” phrase was uttered by no fewer than three justices (Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.) as well as defendant Terrance Graham’s attorney. Several variations on the theme also came up, reflecting the weighty issues the justices were addressing:
“Juveniles are different,” said Roberts.
“Kids are different,” added the lawyer for juvenile defendant Joe Sullivan.
“Murder is different,” chimed in Graham’s lawyer.
“Adolescents are different,” he added in response to a question from Roberts.
Whether or not life without parole for a juvenile convicted of a non-homicide offense is sufficiently “different” to be found unconstitutional remains to be seen.

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