Pa. high court fast tracks juvenile lifer appeals

    Pennsylvania’s highest court is moving quickly to determine how to respond to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles aren’t constitutional.

    The state Supreme Court scheduled oral arguments for Sept. 13 in a pair of cases that will determine what to do about the hundreds of people already serving such sentences, as well as how to handle the issue going forward.
    The defendants are Ian Cunningham, serving life for a second-degree murder conviction out of Philadelphia, and Qu’Eed Batts, convicted in Northampton County.

    The 5-to-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision issued June 25 still makes it possible for juveniles to get life, but it can’t be automatic.

    The state Department of Corrections says 373 lifers were under age 18 at the time they were sentenced.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.