Oral argument: Mar. 20, 2012
Appealed from: Supreme Court of Arkansas (Oct. 7, 2004)
At age fourteen, Petitioner Kuntrell Jackson was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for felony-murder when his cousin killed a shop attendant during a robbery. Arkansas law made a life-without-parole sentence mandatory, so neither Jackson’s age nor the fact that he was not the triggerman entered into the sentencing consideration. After the Arkansas Supreme Court affirmed Jackson’s conviction, a state court denied Jackson’s petition for habeas corpus in which he argued that a life-without-parole sentence on a fourteen-year-old constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. Respondent, Arkansas Department of Corrections Director Ray Hobbs, asserts that such a sentence is constitutionally permissible and in line with national standards. The Supreme Court’s decision will help delineate the bounds of Eighth Amendment protection with respect to life-without-parole sentences for young juveniles convicted of homicide, particularly when they were not the triggermen.