Pa. high court fast tracks juvenile lifer appeals

August 7, 2012 - 1:35 PM

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — 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 Sentencing Project, an advocacy group based in Washington, has said Pennsylvania leads the nation in the number of juvenile lifers.

The state Supreme Court scheduled oral argument for Sept. 12 in a pair of cases that will determine what to do about the hundreds of people serving such sentences, as well as how to handle the issue going forward.

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