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Name: People v. J.I.A.
Case #: G040625
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 06/08/2011
Subsequent History: Rev. granted 9/14/11 (S190647)
Summary

Juvenile defendant’s term-of-years sentence for non-homicide offenses is cruel and unusual punishment where it amounts to life in prison without parole. The minor, who was 14 years old at the time of the offenses, was convicted of multiple counts of sodomy, kidnaping to commit robbery, forcible oral copulation and other offenses, committed against four separate victims. He was sentenced to 50 years to life plus two consecutive life sentences. The Court of Appeal found the sentence cruel and unusual punishment under Graham v. Florida (2010) __ U.S. __, even though that decision is not dispositive because J.A.’s sentence was not LWOP. Citing data regarding the life expectancy of an American male, especially one confined to state prison, the court noted J.A.’s sentence rendered him ineligible for parole until the age of 70 — approximately the time he is expected to die. The sentence effectively deprived J.A. of any meaningful opportunity to obtain release no matter his efforts to gain insight into his offenses and to rehabilitate. In addition, his sentence is cruel and unusual under federal and California proportionality tests. Based on J.A.’s age at the time of the offenses, his physically and emotionally abusive upbringing, and his inferior intelligence, the Court of Appeal concluded that under the first factor of In re Lynch (1972) 8 Cal.3d 410, the nature of the offender, his punishment is cruel and unusual.