Supreme Court Takes Up Teen’s Life-Without-Parole Case

WASHINGTON (CN) — Taking up the case of a 15-year-old who killed his grandfather, the Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether a juvenile must be ruled “permanently incorrigible” to get a life sentence without parole.

The case comes out of Mississippi, where Brett Jones was sentenced in 2004 to life without the possibility of parole. Jones had stabbed his grandfather to death during a fight, and life without parole was the mandatory sentence at the time for murder in the state.

He needed to be resentenced, however, after the Supreme Court ruled in the 2012 case Miller v. Alabama that mandatory sentences of life without parole for juvenile offenders were unconstitutional. The judge heard testimony about Jones’ abusive father, and Jones’ own struggles with depression, but ultimately handed him another sentence of life without parole.

In the intervening years, Jones struck out with the Mississippi Court of Appeals and the Mississippi Supreme Court.

He urged the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case by emphasizing the failure of the sentencing judge to specifically find him “permanently incorrigible.”

“Without a requirement to find permanent incorrigibility before imposing life without parole, the command of Miller and Montgomery to restrict the sentences to rare, permanently incorrigible juveniles loses its force as a rule of law,” Jones’ brief states.

Per its custom, the justices did not issue any comment in taking up the case Monday. It is the only grant of certiorari in an order list with dozens of denied cases.

Jones is represented by David Shapiro, an attorney at the Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center. Shapiro did not immediately return a request for comment on the court’s decision.

The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office also did not immediately return a request for comment on the grant.

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