Eastern University Alum Bryan Stevenson Wins in Supreme Court

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Eastern University Alum Bryan Stevenson Wins in Supreme Court

Decision Called “A Significant Victory for Children”
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Bryan Stevenson, a graduate of Eastern University and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiatve, wins an historic ruling by the Supreme Court that holds that life without parole for juveniles convicted of non-homicide offenses is unconstitutional.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010 - 5:00pm

CONTENT: Press Release

(3BLMedia/theCSRfeed) St. Davids, PA -  May 25, 2010 - The U.S. Supreme Court today issued an historic ruling in Graham v. Florida that holds life without parole sentences for juveniles convicted of non-homicide offenses unconstitutional. Terrance Graham, sentenced to life without parole at 17, is now entitled to a resentencing hearing. Dozens of other juveniles sentenced to life without parole are now entitled to relief, including Joe Sullivan, whose case also was argued on this issue. 

"This is a significant victory for children. The Court recognized that it is cruel to pass a final judgment on children, who have an enormous capacity for change and rehabilitation compared to adults," said Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, who represents Joe Sullivan. "I am very encouraged by the Court's ruling. It's an important win not only for kids who have been condemned to die in prison, but for all children who need additional protection and recognition in the criminal justice system."
Stevenson, who graduated from the Pennsylvania Christian University, Eastern University, in 1981 before going on to Harvard Law School, noted that many of the people affected by the ruling do not have lawyers and will need effective legal representation for the sentencing hearings that the Court's ruling now requires.
In his majority opinion, Justice Kennedy explained a categorical rule barring life imprisonment without parole sentences "gives all juvenile non-homicide offenders a chance to demonstrate maturity and reform. The juvenile should not be deprived of the opportunity to achieve maturity of judgment and self-recognition of human worth and potential."
The Court cited scientific studies showing that the same immaturity and flexibility that make teenagers more susceptible to peer pressure and external influences also make them strong candidates for rehabilitation. The majority wrote, "Life in prison without the possibility of parole gives no chance for fulfillment outside prison walls, no chance for reconciliation with society, no hope."
Groups as diverse as the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Psychiatric Association, the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators, the American Bar Association, mental health professionals, victims, clergy, educators, international law scholars, and national child advocacy organizations, along with former juvenile offenders such as U.S Senator Alan Simpson and award-winning actor Charles Dutton, filed amicus briefs supporting the petitioners.
The Equal Justice Initiative was founded by Bryan Stevenson and is a nonprofit organization that provides legal representation to indigent defendants and prisoners who have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system. Stevenson has won national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and people of color in the criminal justice system. He has been a guest on numerous broadcast news programs, including PBS and CNN. Since graduating from Eastern University, Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Government, he has assisted in securing relief for dozens of condemned prisoners, advocated for poor people, and developed community-based reform litigation aimed at improving the administration of criminal justice. He also serves on the law faculty at New York University School of Law. Learn more about the Equal Justice Initiative at www.eji.org.



Linda Ann Olson, M.Ed.
Eastern University
Keywords: Eastern University | bryan stevenson | christian university | eastern college | pennsylvanian christian university | philadelphia christian university | philly college

CONTENT: Press Release