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IL Supreme Court calls for review of juvenile mandatory life without parole sentences

The Illinois Supreme Court today ruled that Adolfo Davis, who was sentenced to mandatory life without parole for crimes he commited as a juvenile, should receive a new sentencing hearing. The decision comes on the heels of the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Miller v. Alabama that such mandatory sentences "violate . . . the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment."

The Catholic Conference of Illinois in August joined other faith-based organizations in an amicus brief to the Davis case, pointing out the U.S. Supreme Court noted that juveniles lack maturity, are far more impressionable than adults, and still have the capacity to change. When the case was heard in January, CCI wrote a letter to the editor that was distributed statewide, and published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Daily Herald, the State Journal-Register and the Belleville News-Democrat.

Davis has spent more than 20 years behind bars for participating in a robbery that ended up killing two people. He was 14 when he committed the crime in which he never fired a shot.

CCI further notes that Davis has accepted responsibility for his actions, attained his General Education Diploma, and works with a Catholic priest to deter at-risk children from criminal activity. Cardinal George of the Archdiocese of Chicago in 2011 wrote Gov. Pat Quinn, asking him to commute Davis' sentence. 

"We support the justifiable punishment of crime, but also believe in the redemptive abilities of the individual, especially juveniles who can mature, repent and develop into productive members of society," CCI executive Director Robert Gilligan said today in a press release.

He also noted the Conference supports state legislation ending mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles, a position shared by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.