- Court: Oregon Supreme Court
- Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
- Date Filed: 03-04-2021
- Case #: S066824
- Judge(s)/Court Below: Garrett, J. for the Court; En Banc.
- Full Text Opinion
Defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment as a juvenile, where after serving 30 years, Defendant could petition to convert said life sentence to a sentence of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole. Defendant appealed and the Court of Appeals held Defendant’s sentence under ORS 163.105(1)(c) (2001) violates the Eighth Amendment because when imposed, the sentence is mandatory life imprisonment without parole. The State petitioned for review and argued the lower court misinterpreted Miller. The prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment has been interpreted to require a sentence “be graduated and proportioned to both the offender and the offense.” Miller v. Alabama, 567 US 460, 479, 132 S Ct 2455, 183 L Ed 2d 407 (2012). “[I]mposition of a state’s most severe penalties on juvenile offenders cannot proceed as though they were not children.” Id. at 474. The Court held the lower court erred in their interpretation of Miller because “harshest penalties” refer to true-life and the death penalty. Here, the Court reasoned that because Defendant has a possibility for parole, true-life has not been imposed and thus individualized sentencing as required by Miller is not mandated for sentences under ORS 163.105(1)(c) (2001). Defendant’s sentence provides a meaningful opportunity for release, and in turn, is not the equivalent of true life. The decision of the Court of Appeals is reversed. The order of the circuit court is affirmed.