Jones v. Mississippi

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: March 9, 2020
  • Case #: 18-1259
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 285 So. 3d 626 (Miss. Ct. App. Dec. 14, 2017)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether the Eighth Amendment requires the sentencing authority to make a finding that a juvenile is permanently incorrigible before imposing a sentence of life without parole.

Petitioner was fifteen when he stabbed his grandfather eight times during an altercation. The jury found him guilty and sentenced him to life imprisonment without parole. The Supreme Court of Mississippi, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), vacated his sentence and remanded with instruction to consider the Miller factors, a set of “juvenile characteristics and circumstances.” The court resentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The court did not find that he was permanently incorrigible, nor did it address his capacity for rehabilitation. The Mississippi Court of Appeals affirmed, citing that the sentencing judge must apply the Miller factors but need not make any specific factual finding regarding the defendant’s incorrigibleness. Petitioner argues to the U.S. Supreme Court that there is an authority split on whether it violates the Eighth Amendment to sentence a juvenile to life without parole, without first making a finding that the juvenile is incorrigible to the extent that merits such a sentence. This split among state courts has occurred as a result of the decision in Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S. Ct. 718 (2016), which restricted the sentence of life without parole to “rare, permanently incorrigible juveniles.” Petitioner argues that meaningful enforcement of Montgomery requires a solid finding by the Court on the constitutionality of a sentence of life without parole in the case of a juvenile.

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