Friday, May 27, 2016
The Iowa Supreme Court [official website] on Friday ruled [opinion, PDF] that juvenile convicted of first-degree murder may not be sentenced to life without parole. The court reasoned that sentencing a juvenile to life without parole was cruel and unusual punishment and emphasized that "sentencing courts should not be required to make speculative up-front decisions on juvenile offenders' prospects for rehabilitation." The court noted that it may be determined that an individual is beyond rehabilitation after time has passed, "after a record of success or failure in the rehabilitative process is available." The court also emphasized that parole was not guaranteed to juveniles, but rather only needs to be left available.