By Leticia Miranda
The Supreme Court considers whether it’s cruel and unusual punishment to lock up teenagers for life without parole.
Efrén Paredes Jr. was a 15-year-old honor roll student in rural Michigan when he was convicted of killing an assistant manager at the grocery store where he worked and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Today, he is one of almost 1,775 prisoners who were sentenced as youth and locked up for life without parole, according to a report released by The Sentencing Project, a prison reform research and advocacy organization. A staggering 77 percent of those youth are Black or Latino.
This June, the Supreme Court will decide whether young people can be sentenced to life without parole for crimes that didn’t result in a death. Separately, several states are also considering abolishing life without parole for youth.
The ruling will set a major legal precedent that may affect cases like Paredes’s. In the meantime, Paredes, who is now 36, is hoping that Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm will grant his commutation request by the end of her term this year and release him.
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