Tuesday, May 12, 2009

LWOP For Kidnapping Cruel And Unusual

In a welcome change from recent decisions that had adopted a restrictive reading of the California Constitution's "cruel or unusual punishment" clause, the Fourth Appellate District, Division Three, has held in In re Nunez (here) than an LWOP sentence imposed on a kidnapper who was 14 at the time of the offense where the victim was not murdered amounts to cruel or unusual punishment under the California Constitution (as well as cruel and unusual punishment under the federal constitution's Eighth Amendment). The court was influenced by the fact that LWOP is not available for first degree murder, even with special circumstances, where the offender was 14 at the time of the crime, and by the fact that the sentence was apparently unique to California, the United States and the world.

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