Juvenile Justice Case Law – Meaningful opportunity to obtain release – Virginia, et. al. v. LeBlanc, 582 U.S. __ (2017)

Decided June 12, 2017

The Court explained each state has the right to its own sentencing schema.  The Court also explained the sentencing schema must provide juvenile defendants tried as adults and convicted of non-homicide crimes a meaningful opportunity to obtain release.  The Court examined Virginia’s sentencing schema and concluded its geriatric release program satisfies the Graham requirement of providing a meaningful opportunity to obtain release.  The geriatric release program allows older inmates to receive conditional release under some circumstances and uses the normal parole factors in determining whether to grant conditional release.  The Court further concluded the state supreme court’s ruling the geriatric release program satisfied the Graham requirement was not objectively unreasonable and upheld that decision.  The Court emphasized each state must only offer the opportunity to obtain release in order to comply with Graham; whether release actually occurs is discretionary.


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