Miller Resentencing Project Report: Florida Juveniles Sentenced to Mandatory Life Without Parole

9 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2014 Last revised: 7 Mar 2014

Eric Schab

Florida State University - College of Law

Paolo Annino

Florida State University - College of Law

Ashley Marie Nellis

The Sentencing Project

Date Written: January 3, 2014

Abstract

In June of 2012, the United States Supreme Court issued two cases, Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs, which prohibited the imposition of mandatory sentences of life without parole on juvenile offenders convicted of homicide offenses. As part of its holding, the Court stressed that life without parole sentences are to be reserved for "the rare juvenile offender whose crime reflects irreparable corruption." This language leaves open the question, just how rare is it for a Miller inmate’s crime to be a reflection of irreparable corruption?

This report is focused exclusively on Miller inmates, which we have defined as juvenile offenders serving mandatory sentences of life without parole for homicide offenses, in the State of Florida. The report begins by painting a picture of who Florida’s Miller inmates are — where they were convicted, what age they were at the time of the offense, their race, and their gender. Then, the report goes on to examine their disciplinary history in the Department of Corrections for evidence of how amenable they are to rehabilitation. The data from the Department of Corrections reveals that the average number of disciplinary reports received by Miller inmates after 10 or more years of incarceration is 16.48. However, this average is inflated by a handful of Miller inmates at the upper end of the spectrum. A more careful analysis reveals that the majority of Miller inmates had less than 15 disciplinary reports after 10 years of incarceration. Additionally, the self-report data that we received from Miller inmates shows that the inmates are most likely to receive disciplinary reports within the first 5 years of being admitted to the Department of Corrections, with only a fifth of the inmates who had been admitted for more than 10 years reporting a disciplinary report within the past year. The inmates also most often reported receiving disciplinary reports for some form of disobedience.

In sum, the report finds that most Miller inmates receive a handful of disciplinary reports within the first few years of incarceration, mostly for some form of disobedience, and then receive fewer and fewer reports as they grow and mature. We hope that this data will prove useful for those litigators and members of judiciary attempting to distinguish a typical pattern of institutional adjustment from the "irreparable corruption" that the Supreme Court spoke of.

Keywords: miller v. alabama, resentencing, retroactivity, graham v. florida, roper v. simmons, florida, supreme court, juvenile justice, juvenile

Suggested Citation

Schab, Eric and Annino, Paolo and Nellis, Ashley Marie, Miller Resentencing Project Report: Florida Juveniles Sentenced to Mandatory Life Without Parole (January 3, 2014). FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 662. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2374429 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2374429

Eric Schab (Contact Author)

Florida State University - College of Law ( email )

425 W. Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306
United States

Paolo Annino

Florida State University - College of Law ( email )

425 W. Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306
United States

Ashley Marie Nellis

The Sentencing Project ( email )

1705 DeSales ST. NW
8th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
United States

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