Age-appropriate Sentencing

Prior to the issuance of landmark court rulings against mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles (see cases below), CFJC helped the Illinois Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Children publish a report (pdf) analyzing the issue of juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) in Illinois and providing data regarding the approximately 100 individuals serving the sentence. An executive summary (pdf) of this report is also available. 

Key Decisions and Briefs

On May 17, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court held that life-without-parole sentences were unconstitutional when imposed on youth in non-homicide cases in Graham v. Florida. The CFJC contributed to an amicus brief filed in the case.

On June 25, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in Miller v. Alabama, prohibiting mandatory life sentences for homicide offenses committed by juveniles.

On March 20, 2014, the Illinois Supreme Court held in People v. Addolfo Davis (pdf) that the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling in Miller was retroactive. Read the CFJC's press release for more information (pdf). Read the Coalition’s amicus brief (pdf).

On October 17, 2014, the Illinois Supreme Court rejected challenges to automatic transfer in People v. Patterson (pdf), but called on the legislature to review this process in Illinois. Read the CFJC’s amicus brief (pdf). Read the enacted legislation (pdf), which also required consideration of youth-specific mitigating factors at sentencing and enhanced judicial discretion – a response to Coalition-led efforts to ensure Illinois’ compliance with both the letter and spirit of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions on youth sentencing.

On Jan. 25, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Montgomery v. Louisiana that the 2012 Miller v. Alabama decision banning mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juvenile killers must be applied retroactively to the cases of hundreds of people with life prison sentences imposed years before the Miller decision. Read the CFJC amicus brief filed in the case (pdf).