This mandatory life without parole (LWOP) sentences for adults (ages 18-24) in non-homicide and homicide cases violates state and federal equal protection clauses, as well as Articles 5 & 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The United States Supreme Courts rendered Juveniles (ages 17 and under as a group and determined LWOP sentences are unconstitutional.
The High Court recognized the findings of social scientists and neurologists relating to age and brain cognition as valid. These scientific findings evidenced that brains are not fully developed until a person's mid-twenties with humans typically experiencing tremendous growth in responsibilty.
Because Pennsylvania's murder statue and sentencing scheme draw no distinction between juvenile and adult individuals, it necessarily follows that Pennsylvania recognizes all first and second murder offenders as comprising a single class. This age limitation drew the line at 17 and under. That, by drawing this distinction, the privileges or entitlements offered to juveniles, target a suspected class of offenders. Accordingly, because the United States Supreme Court's interpretation that juveniles serving LWOP implies that juveniles (ages 17 and under) are a "suspected class" who are "similarly" (charged and sentenced under the same statue/scheme yet "treated differently" (mandatory LWOP for adults ages 18-24 as opposed to discretionary sentencing for juveniles ages 17 and under). This holding serves as discriminatory. The essenc of the equal protection doctrine is that like persons in like circumstances are to be treated similarly,
Therefore, we urge our State Legislature and Governor to draft a Bill to enact a (new) sentencing scheme to do away with mandatory LWOP (to be applied retroactively) for adults (ages 18-24). There are over 1000+ new PCRA petitions before the Court in Philadelphia.
To review the entire legal argument (10 pages) go online at: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B149AsXOdqRpNWxwNmNTTzZZR2s
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