Recently, the United States Supreme Court reversed the Jacksonville Juvenile Criminal Case of Graham v. Florida. The Court reversed the case ruling that the Jacksonville Juvenile Court violated the 8th Amendment of the United States Constitution when it sentenced a juvenile to life in prison without the possibility of parole in a non-homide case.
California has taken the reasoning of Graham v. Florida a step further. The state enacted Senate Bill 399 which allows all juveniles to be eligible for parole, even those convicted of murder. Support for this Bill is based upon extensive research that supports the premise that children and teenagers differ from adults in their abilities to reason and control impulses. Additionally, they have a greater potential to be rehabilitated and reformed.
If Florida were to enact a similar law, it could effect many incarcerated juveniles currently serving life sentences without the possibility of parole in Florida State Prison. For example, Joshua Phillips is serving a life sentence without parole. His Jacksonville Juvenile Case is going through the appellate process at this time. If a law prohibiting such a sentence is enacted, his sentence could be reversed on appeal.
Some of Florida’s criminal courts have recently ruled on the confessions of Juvenile defendants. William Hanlon a Tampa criminal attorney published an article about suppressing those confessions.