Should young criminals get a second chance at freedom?

Do kid criminals deserve a second chance?

Do criminals who commit crimes, even kill as kids deserve a second chance at freedom?  The U.S. Supreme Court now says "yes," juveniles given a life sentence should get another shot at parole.

"There's a difference between adults and children," says criminal defense attorney Dyril Flanagan.

It enforces Florida's 2014 decision to review the cases of teen killers spending life in prison.

Anna Vuong says her sister's attacker, Kendrick Morris, is where he needs to be: behind bars.

"I think he does belong in prison," says Vuong.

 

Morris was 16 when he raped and brutally beat Anna's sister, Queena, so badly outside of the Bloomingdale library in 2008 that she still can't talk or walk on her own.

"Queena did not have a choice when she was attacked, essentially receiving a life sentence.  She's unable to talk, hear, walk, eat.  Kendrick had a choice," says Vuong.

After enduring one trial, court records show in two weeks the family and state will again have to fight to keep Morris locked up.

He's getting a new hearing after a court ruled his four, 65-year sentences for Queena's attack, rape and armed robbery of a daycare worker are too harsh, not giving the young criminal a chance to mature or be rehabilitated.

"Being young, does not mean you don't know the difference between right and wrong," says Vuong.

Click here to follow Queena's recovery and help with medical expenses

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that teen killers can't be sentenced to life in prison without parole, unless it's clear they're doomed to a life of crime.

More than a thousand inmates in the nation's prisons can now challenge their punishments.  It extends the court's 2012 decision.

Supreme Court gives juvenile killers chance for reduced sentences

The 2012 case ruled out mandatory life imprisonment without parole, which was the situation facing Henry Montgomery of Louisiana, who brought Monday's case. In 1963, when he was 17, Montgomery shot and killed Charles Hurt, a sheriff's deputy.

Montgomery is now 69 and says his rehabilitation in prison should make him eligible to be considered for parole. The Louisiana Supreme Court rejected his plea, saying the U.S. Supreme Court's 2012 ruling in Miller v. Alabama was not retroactive.

In the majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that states do not have to go so far as to resentence killers serving life terms. Instead, the states can offer parole hearings with no guarantee of release.

Florida already reformed it's laws in 2014, reviewing all past juvenile life sentences.

Lawmakers vote to rework juvenile sentencing

"I think it's a good thing," says Flanagan.  He represented 16-year-old St. Petersburg officer  killer, Nicholas Lindsey.  A judge upheld Lindsey's life sentence for the murder of Officer David Crawford, but Flanagan hopes Lindsey will be eligible for parole one day.

"It's very difficult to be judged the rest of your life on an impulsive thing you've done, and an incredibly stupid thing you've done as a juvenile," Flanagan says.

Flanagan says defense teams will argue factors like a teen's brain development, their upbringing, or how they have behaved in prison should impact the length of their sentence.

Jason Paul was stabbed to death just riding his bike down the street. 

Teen arrested for January stabbing death of Clearwater man

His 15-year-old killer, Mychal King, is one of ten in Pinellas County alone, now awaiting resentencing hearings.  Prosecutors are bracing for even more request.

 


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment
TRENDING VIDEOS