Bryan Stevenson: The Man Behind The Supreme Court Ban On Juvenile Lifers

An inspiring presentation from the man who had a strong hand in this important decision

Wild to think that minors could be sentences to life without parole if they committed murder.  However, that’s not the case anymore.  Today the Supreme Court of the United States spoke.

According to ABC News, Justice Elena Kagan wrote the following for the majority vote:

Mandatory life without parole for a juvenile precludes consideration of his chronological age and its hallmark features—among them, immaturity, impetuosity, and failure to appreciate risks and consequences. It prevents taking into account the family and home environment that surrounds him—and from which he cannot usually extricate himself—no matter how brutal or dysfunctional.

Of course, this didn’t just happen out of nowhere, especially in light of the rightward leanings of the Supreme Court (see Citizens United, Bush v. Gore, and the upcoming ruling on the Health Care Law, which many expect the Court to strike down, to name a few).  What many may not know–and a hat tip is in order to Rachel Maddow for pointing this out–is that this ban on juveniles doing life was argued by Bryan Stevenson (above), the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative.  Throughout his career, he has spent much of his time challenging the bias against the poor and against people of color in the criminal justice system.

I first became aware of Bryan earlier this year at TED.  He gave such an amazing presentation that we gave him the longest standing ovation in the history of the conference.  Watch his presentation and you’ll see his passion for the work he does.  And check out his great line (this is so worth remembering): “The opposite of poverty is not wealth. . .the opposite of poverty is justice.”

If you want to be inspired, spend 20 minutes and watch this video. It’s so worth it.

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Rob Fields is the founder and publisher of Bold As Love Magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @robfields.

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