Iowa Court Rejects Life Without Parole for Juveniles

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled in a split decision Friday that sentencing juveniles to life in prison without parole is unconstitutional because it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

In a 4-to-3 decision, Justice Brent Appel wrote that juvenile character is “a work in progress” and that courts should not preclude the chance for juvenile offenders to be released for good behavior by parole boards after they have fully matured. “We should not ask our district court judges to predict future prospects for maturation and rehabilitation when highly trained professionals say such predictions are impossible,” he wrote.

The ruling is the latest in a national trend away from harsh sentences for juveniles. The United States Supreme Court in recent years has banned the death…

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