On January 15, 2014, the Illinois Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Addolfo Davis. Mr. Davis was sentenced to juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) for his role as an accomplice for an offense that occurred when he was 14 years old.
The Court is tasked in the Davis case with deciding whether the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Miller v. Alabama, which held mandatory juvenile life without parole sentences unconstitutional, is retroactive. Today, Mr. Davis is 37 years old and housed at Stateville Correctional Center, a maximum-security prison in Illinois.
Approximately 100 individuals in Illinois were sentenced to die in prison for crimes that occurred when they were children. Due to the mandatory nature of the sentence, the vast majority of these individuals were denied the opportunity at the time of sentencing to show their incredible capacity for change.
For these individuals, a ruling in the Davis case holding Miller retroactive could give them the opportunity to show that today, as adults, they have matured and become rehabilitated.
The court’s ruling is expected sometime this year.
CFJC attorneys and members of the Illinois Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Children attended the oral arguments. Afterwards, attorneys debriefed with community members and partners in the courthouse.
The Coalition remains deeply committed to the fair treatment of children in Illinois’ juvenile justice system and to finding age-appropriate ways to hold youth responsible for their actions. Its primary focus is ending the extreme sentence of juvenile life without parole.
Luckily, the hearing was held in Chicago, due to renovation of the courthouse in Springfield, enabling advocates and members of Communities and Relatives of Illinois Incarcerated Children (CRIIC) to attend.
Patricia Soung, former fellow at the Children and Family Justice Center and a Northwestern University School of Law alumna, serves as Davis’s attorney. She met with family members of those serving JLWOP to share some inspiring words after the argument.
How did the community feel about the argument? Check out some reactions of the Coalition and the Davis family:
Listen/Watch the Argument in the Supreme Court