The U.S.Supreme Court, in the 2012 Miller v. Alabama case ruled that it is unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to mandatory life without parole.

Miller v. Alabama should be applied retroactively.

Pennsylvania has the largest population of juveniles 17 years old and under sentenced to life without parole in the United States-480.  Philadelphia County has 150 juveniles sentenced to life without parole who are 17 or under.

The Pennsylvania Constitution states that a juvenile is a child up to the age of 21 years old.

The Supreme Court cited that the human brain is not filly formed until a person is 25 years old.

In addition to featuring juvenile lifers 17 and under, this site will show 18-21 year olds, a small representation of many who deserve to have their life without parole sentences vacated. Roxanne Severcool was sentenced at 17 years old, but What about Cyd Berger, Marilyn Dobrolenski and Avis Lee and many who deserve this opportunity?

The U.S. Supreme Court, in the case Miller v. Alabama,  ruled that sentencing a juvenile to a mandatory sentence of life without parole is unconstitutional, violating the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. The high court ruled that judges issuing sentences must consider the offender’s level of maturity and emotional development. Mandatory life without parole sentences are no longer legal, however the sentence can be imposed at the discretion of the judge.

When Former Governor Ed Rendell was the mayor of Philadelphia, he legislated that cases involving the death sentence or life without parole be tried by public defenders, not court appointed attorneys. Prior to that, judges appointed attorneys, often with little or no experience litigating. Even now, there are not enough resources to use public defenders exclusively.


© Mary DeWitt 2015

Saturday, December 13, 2014, NY Times:

Justices to Decide if a Ban on Life Terms for Juveniles Applies Retroactively

Justice Elena Kagan: “Mandatory life without parole for a juvenile precludes consideration of his chronological age and its hallmark features- among them immaturity, impetuosity and failure to appreciate risks and prevents taking into account the family and home environment that surrounds him- and from which he cannot usually extricate himself- no matter how brutal or dysfunctional.”

New York Times OP ED: Wednesday, December 17, 2014

End Solitary Confinement for Teenagers.

Lynching as Racial Terrorism New York Times Editorial, Wednesday, February 11, 2015.

Bryan Stevenson is rectifying our history: “ lynching is the modern-day racial bias in the criminal justice system...” in a 1993 recording,

Sharon Wiggins recalling her

Grandmother’s Memory of the Ku Klux Klan

NY Times Editorial, Monday, Feb 16, 2015       How to Force Prosecutors to Play Fair