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Should Juveniles Be Given Life Sentences?

Should Missouri Juveniles Be Given Life Sentences?

Tomorrow, October 20, 2010, the Missouri Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in State of Missouri v. Antonio A. Andrews. This appeal arises from a trial court conviction of Andrews for first-degree murder and armed-criminal action. After the December 2009 trial, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of probation or parole and to two consecutive 50 year terms of imprisonment for the armed criminal action. Andrews was 15 years old at the time the crime was committed.

On appeal, Andrews claims that this sentence, guided by the juvenile certification statute, is unconstitutional under the Missouri and United States Constitutions. The statute states in relevant part as follows:

Andrews’ argument is that this statute, if invoked at the mandatory hearing, does not allow the court to take into account certain criteria that it normally would in order to determine if “there are reasonable prospects of rehabilitation within the juvenile justice system.” 211.071.6 RSMo. That criteria includes age and criminal history of the defendant.

It will certainly be interesting to see if Missouri’s High Court believes our state’s most troubled youth deserve an opportunity for rehabilitation at some point in their life.

Visit our juvenile crimes page for more information on Missouri’s juvenile court system.