In Pennsylvania, some 1,100 people are serving life-without-parole (LWOP) sentences despite never having intended to take a life. Pennsylvania is one of just six states that mandate LWOP for all individuals convicted of felony murder. This lifetime ban on parole eligibility, which effectively guarantees a person will die in prison, categorically violates the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause of the Eighth Amendment and the Cruel Punishments Clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution.
The Sentencing Project submitted the below amicus brief to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania on behalf of Marie Scott, Normita Jackson, Marsha Scaggs, and Tyreem Rivers.
We thank our legal counsel Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, the Andy and Gwen Stern Community Lawyering Clinic at Drexel University School of Law, and the International Human Rights Law Clinic at UC Berkeley School of Law.
For an updated statutory analysis see our report, Felony Murder: An On-Ramp for Extreme Sentencing.