Sentencing

Beginning in 2010, the Supreme Court severely limited states’ ability to impose juvenile life without parole sentences. In a seminal case, Miller v. Alabama, the Court banned mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles and declared that only the “rare juvenile offender whose crime reflects irreparable corruption” should be made to spend the rest of their lives in prison. While Miller has been the subject of much...

Legislatures often instruct judges to impose harsher punishments on people who have prior criminal convictions—for example, a conviction for a “crime of violence” or for a “crime involving moral turpitude.” But how are judges to determine whether a person has such a conviction? In Mathis v. United States, the Supreme Court clarified that judges can rely on only the legal “elements” of prior convictions, not the factual “means”...