Saturday, June 27, 2015

Lifetime postrelease for juvenile offenders violates Eighth Amendment

Joanna Labastida won in State v. Dull, No. 106,437 (Kan. June 5, 2015), obtaining a holding that mandatory lifetime postrelease supervision is categorically unconstitutional when imposed on a juvenile who was convicted of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. 

The KSC applied Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010)(holding that juvenile offenders could not be sentenced to life without parole for non-homicide offenses) and held that, as applied in the Kansas sentencing scheme, lifetime postrelease supervision could not stand:
Under Graham, Dull has not demonstrated a national consensus for or against mandatory lifetime postrelease supervision for juveniles. Juveniles, especially those who commit a nonhomicide offense, are clearly viewed with a diminished moral culpability compared to adults. Mandatory lifetime postrelease supervision for a juvenile is a severe lifetime sentence, even when the potential for further imprisonment is not considered, because the juvenile's liberty interests are severely restricted for life by the terms of the mandatory lifetime postrelease supervision. While we have found mandatory lifetime postrelease supervision constitutional for adults, the same factors that result in a diminished culpability for juveniles, i.e., recklessness, immaturity, irresponsibility, impetuousness, and ill-considered decision making, along with their lower risks of recidivism, all diminish the penological goals of lifetime supervision for juvenile sex offenders. 

Accordingly, we reverse the Court of Appeals and conclude that mandatory lifetime postrelease supervision is categorically unconstitutional under Graham when imposed on a juvenile who committed and was later convicted of aggravated indecent liberties with a child.
As a result, the KSC vacated the postrelease supervision portion of Mr. Dull's sentence.

[Update: on July 2, 2015, the state filed a notice of intent to file a petition for a writ of certioriari with the SCOTUS.  As a result, issuance of the appellate mandate has been stayed.]

[Update: on September 1, 2015, the state filed its petition for a writ of certiorari.]

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