What Is True/Slant?
275+ knowledgeable contributors.
Reporting and insight on news of the moment.
Follow them and join the news conversation.

Jun. 3 2010 - 8:31 am | 135 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Felony murder: An unaddressed issue in the Supreme Court’s juvenile lifer decision

In this week’s Philadelphia City Paper:

In a statement following the Supreme Court ruling, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said the decision “will have little to no impact here in Philadelphia. The decision involves juveniles under the age of 18 serving a sentence of life imprisonment without parole for a crime other than murder. In Philadelphia we believe there are no such cases.”

But the reality isn’t so clear-cut: Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion states that “defendants who do not kill, intend to kill, or foresee that life will be taken are categorically less deserving of [life without the possibility of parole] than are murderers.”

In Pennsylvania, the felony — or second-degree — murder rule imposes a mandatory life sentence without parole for any crime involving a homicide, whether or not that homicide was intended. And because the commonwealth allows juveniles to be tried as adults in murder cases, there are many cases in Pennsylvania involving juveniles sentenced to life without parole for crimes in which they did not kill, intend to kill or foresee that a life would be taken.

Most of the coverage following the Supreme Court’s decision two weeks ago emphasized that relatively few kids incarcerated for life would find their sentences affected by the new legislation. But states where the felony murder rule is law may find that number significantly higher in upcoming months.


No Comments Yet
Post your comment »
Log in for notification options
Comments RSS

Post Your Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment

Log in with your True/Slant account.

Previously logged in with Facebook?

Create an account to join True/Slant now.

Facebook users:
Create T/S account with Facebook

My T/S Activity Feed


    About Me

    The Prison Dilemma is a collection of links and other stuff I stumble across while writing and reporting for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University -- an organization that investigates claims of wrongful conviction in Pennsylvania's State Correctional Institutions. If you have tips, thoughts, ideas, requests -- or if you know someone with a wrongful conviction claim -- contact me here:

    Twitter: twitter.com/ssttrroouudd

    Facebook: facebook.com/matt.stroud1

    E-mail: matt [dot] stroud [at] yahoo [dot] com

    See my profile »
    Followers: 32
    Contributor Since: June 2009
    Location:Pittsburgh, PA

    What I'm Up To

    About The Prison Dilemma

    The Prison Dilemma is about incarceration, justice, prisons, and prison reform. If you’re interested in any of these things, and your thirst for information isn’t fundamentally and in all ways quenched by the information you find here, I recommend that you explore volunteer opportunities with your local Innocence Project. If you’re like me and you live within 100 miles of Pittsburgh, PA, the Innocence Institute of Point Park University is your best option. That’s where I work.

    I also work as a staff writer with Trib Total Media.