Misconstruing Graham & Miller

11 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2013 Last revised: 28 Apr 2014

See all articles by Cara H. Drinan

Cara H. Drinan

Catholic University of America (CUA)

Date Written: November 5, 2013


In the last three years the Supreme Court has decreed a sea change in its juvenile Eighth Amendment jurisprudence. In particular, in its Graham v. Florida and Miller v. Alabama rulings, the Court struck down a majority of the states’ juvenile sentencing laws, outlawing life without parole for juveniles who commit non-homicide offenses and mandating individualized sentencing for those children who commit even the most serious crimes. An examination of state laws and sentencing practices, however, suggests that the Graham and Miller rulings have fallen on deaf ears. After briefly describing what these two decisions required of the states, in this Essay, I outline the many ways in which state actors have failed to comply with the Court’s mandate. Finally, I map out a path for future compliance that relies heavily upon the strength and agility of the executive branch.

Keywords: Graham, Miller, juvenile, sentencing, retroactivity, resentencing

Suggested Citation

Drinan, Cara Hope, Misconstruing Graham & Miller (November 5, 2013). 91 Wash. U. Law Rev. 785 (2014).. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2350316

Cara Hope Drinan (Contact Author)

Catholic University of America (CUA) ( email )

116 McMahon Hall
Washington, DC 20064
United States

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