PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that inmates, who were sentenced to life without parole when they were under 18, must have those sentences reviewed.
The ruling will have a particularly big impact in Philadelphia.
The court struck down automatic life without parole sentences for juveniles in 2012, but a handful of states — including Pennsylvania — refused to apply the ruling retroactively, prompting a second case last year.
Marsha Levick of Philadelphia’s juvenile law center was co-counsel for the inmates seeking to have their sentences reviewed in light of the 2012 ruling. She says she was thrilled with the outcome:
“This is an important ruling that recognizes that children are different.”
Levick estimates there are 500 inmates in Pennsylvania — as many as 300 of them from Philadelphia — that will now be able to get their sentences reviewed:
“In some respects, this was almost the easy part, I think the hard work lies ahead of us.”
A study last year found Philadelphia has nine percent of all life without parole inmates sentenced as juveniles — the highest of any place in the country.