Illinois Justices Uphold 130-Year Sentence for 16-Year-Old
Lusby, now 41 years old, was asking the court to grant him permission to file a petition against his life sentence, which he claimed was unconstitutional under Miller v Alabama and Montgomery v Louisiana.
The two Supreme Court cases in question were landmark juvenile justice cases, ruling that life sentences were generally considered cruel and unusual punishment but that they could be given only if “age and youth factors” were considered in the ruling.
In his dissenting opinion he wrote that Lusby had great potential for rehabilitation, saying “we cannot lose sight of the fact that juveniles are different from adults due to a juvenile’s lack of maturity, underdeveloped sense of responsibility, vulnerability to peer pressure, and the less fixed nature of the juvenile’s character.”
Lusby’s life sentence is de-facto, meaning that he was given a sentence long enough that he’ll die before being able to be released.
“The question is whether or not we can do so in a comprehensive way that accounts for their youth. And there are individuals, like Mr. Lusby, who have been left behind, both by cases and by legislation.
“I think it is appropriate and timely to address that.”
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), 29 states in the U.S. have implemented laws preventing juveniles to be sentenced to life in prison without parole, even in the case of homicide.
Illinois is not one of them.
“Even when convicted of murder, the Court said, judges must be allowed to take a juvenile’s age into account (along with other relevant circumstances) in deciding the appropriate punishment,” reported the ACLU website.
Survey data found that 79 percent “witnessed violence in their homes regularly,” less than half were attending school when they committed their offense, and 47 percent claimed that they had been physically abused.
These choices are considered to be essential in deciding a juvenile offender’s sentence
Data from the Sentencing Project also shows that giving juveniles life without parole sentences is extremely costly, citing that a 50-year sentence given to a 16-year-old would cost about $2.25 million.
This cost would be doubled for Lusby.
Emily Riley is a TCR justice reporting intern.